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Indonesian worker strike starts with sweeps
Publication Date : 03-10-2012
Hundreds of workers carrying Confederation of All-Indonesian Workers Union flags swept factories around the industrial area in Pulo Gadung, East Jakarta, demanding those working halt their activities and join the nationwide strikes.
"We started sweeping at 7 a.m.," said Arif, one of the protesters, while his group swept the factory of cosmetics company PT. Martina Berto.
"After we finish the sweep, we will stage a protest at Bunderan Rawa," he said referring to a traffic circle in the area.
Pulo Gadung protesters, the man said, would stay around the area and would not join protests at the presidential palace and the Hotel Indonesia traffic circle.
The sweep resulted in hundreds of women in blue overalls rushing to the gates of the factory, some applauding, others crying.
"We've been told that there is a protest today, but most us are afraid to take part, fearing the company will fire us," Nila, who has been working at the company for two years, said through her tears.
Nila said that as a worker she thought the protest was important, but she did not like the way the sweeping was conducted.
"They yelled and shouted and cursed. I was surprised and scared," the girl said.
Workers have conducted similar sweeps in several industrial areas around Greater Jakarta, including Cakung in East Jakarta, Jl. Daan Mogot in West Jakarta, and in Jababeka in Bekasi.
At some locations, police and military personnel escorted representatives of the union to thoroughly sweep the location.
Around 23,000 workers in Jakarta, Tangerang, Bekasi and Depok are estimated to be joining the strike.
Around 15,000 police have been dispatched to manage the strike. Although strikes were only planned in industrial areas, Rikwanto said that the police were guarding against the possibility that labourers might stage protests in front of the presidential palace and at the Hotel Indonesia traffic circle.
By 11 a.m., however, no protesters were evident at either location.