Subject: Asia-Pacific Workers Demand for Higher Wages, Employment on Labor Day

[Indonesia and Timor excerpts only. Full article at http://english.cri.cn/6966/2010/05/02/167s567018.htm

Asia-Pacific Workers Demand for Higher Wages, Employment on Labor Day

2010-05-02 03:49:08 Xinhua Web Editor: Han Yueling

International Labor Day, also known as the May Day, have seen tens of thousands of workers around the Asia-Pacific region staging rallies to demand for higher wages and better employment opportunities Saturday.

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Over 10,000 Indonesian workers Saturday staged peaceful protests in roundabout of Jakarta 's Hotel Indonesia and the presidential palace to present their demand to the government.

The protesters, following organizers from several labor organizations, were coming and gathering from factories around the capital city of Jakarta with buses and motors since Saturday morning. They carried banners and flags, demanding the government lift labor welfare and strike corruption.

Some protesters criticized the government's policy that they said of siding up the interest of capitalists instead of addressing the labor welfare issue.

Chanting on their demands, the protesters, who gathered in the Hotel Indonesia roundabout and were led by a number of trucks loaded with loudspeakers and drums, marched down to the presidential palace where thousands of others already waited there since the morning.

The protesters had minor clashes with police in front of the presidential palace when some of them tried to burn down the effigies of Vice President Boediono and Finance Minister Sri Mulyani whom they accused of committed in graft cases that cost the state trillions of rupiah.

"As we see now, the protest is still in peace in general. They were just only convey what they want about the future of labor prosperity," Colonel Boy Rafli Amar, the Jakarta Police Headquarters spokesman told Xinhua.

He said that at least 10,000 labors took part in the May Day protest in Jakarta, and the police have deployed 15,000 policemen in several locations in the city to monitor the protests.

Similar labor protests were conducted simultaneously in other major cities across the country, such as in Semarang, Surabaya, Yogyakarta and Bandung.

The protests that were conducted in front of provincial administration buildings in those cities ended peacefully after representatives of the protesters read out their demands to the officials in charge of the buildings.

The labors demanded the regional government amend the existing regional labor regulations to improve their welfare by raising their wages to let them afford to support their families.

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In Timor-Leste, its Labor Union (KSTL) Saturday demanded the government to amend the labor regulation set by United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET), saying its minimum wage regulation cannot afford to finance the life of labors.

The demand was conveyed by KSTL spokesperson Carolino Marques at a press conference to commemorate the International Labor Day held in Lesidera.

The labors demanded the government to replace the existing labor regulation with the one drafted by the Timor-Leste government itself.

"We want the government to amend the regulation No. 5/2002 on minimum labor wages set by UNTAET since it is no longer afford to finance our families," Carolino said.

Carolino said that the regulation set minimum labor wage at 85 U.S. dollars per month, an amount that is hardly able to cover the monthly needs of a labor's family.

The KSTL spokesperson said that the government also needs to issue regulation on overtime payment as many companies operating in the country were yet to pay the overtime payment for workers who work more than 8 hours in a day.

The KSTL also demanded the government to open more jobs for the youths, many of whom were still left unemployed.

Responding to the labors' demand, Timor-Leste secretary for labor affairs, Benditu Dos Santos Freitas, said that the government is drafting a labor law that would provide minimum wage of 200 U.S. dollars per month.

The draft law is being discussed in the parliament at the moment, Benditu said. He added that after the draft law is enacted by the parliament, each firm operating in the country will be obliged to abide by the law immediately.

Any company found of violating the law will be fined ranging from 100-1,000 U.S. dollars, depending on the company's size.


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