Friday, October 30, 2015

Water Cannons and Tear Gas Used to Disperse Protests over Wages

Tens of thousands of workers from the major unions demonstrated outside the state palace in Jakarta yesterday demanding the new wage regulation be repealed.

The workers are staying strong in their demands that President Jokowi repeal the law that excludes unions in annual negotiations over the minimum wage. They have vowed to continue demonstrations and strikes until their demands are met. But yesterday the government deployed over 15,000 police to break up the peaceful demonstration in Jakarta.

The day began with contingents marching and bussing into the centre of the city. By early afternoon the workers had come together in front of the state palace.

Being a Friday and majority Muslim population, Friday prayers were held on the demonstration.

By nightfall the demonstrators were still strong and showed no sign of giving up.

Eventually the government agreed to meet with union leaders for discussions.

But the government refused to repeal the law and so union leaders returned to the demonstration at 6pm.

Following this police were given the orders to break up the demonstration. Water cannons and tear gas were used to brutally disperse the protesters.   Several videos show the police use of water cannons and tear gas. Here is the link to one:

One worker commented that a better use for the water cannons would be to stop the fires in Kalimantan and Sumatra rather than break up peaceful protests in Jakarta.

Police moved in violently, arresting people and destroying the main vehicle carrying the loudspeaker.

15 union leaders and 2 activists from legal aid were arrested by the police and were still being detained this morning.

Workers are furious by the actions of the police. Demonstrations and strikes are set to continue in the coming days. Some workers are calling for action to be stepped up with strike action in the industrial areas.  

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