Bekasi workers numbering in the tens of thousands staged a massive protest on Thursday, blocking seven toll gates along the Jakarta–Cikarang toll road with motorcycles, causing a long traffic jam.
The protesters, united under the title of the Indonesia Metal Workers Union (SPMI), rallied along Jl. Industri and demanded a minimum wage increase in Bekasi.
“Tens of thousands of workers are now blocking all toll gates in the industrial area, including Jababeka 1, Jababeka 2, MM2100 Cibitung, Lippo Cikarang, Ejip and Hyundai,” said Bekasi regency traffic police chief Adj. Comr. Tri Yulianto in Cikarang, as quoted by Antara news agency.
Tri said that the laborers rallied because they could not meet with representatives of the Indonesia Employers’ Association’s (Apindo) Bekasi chapter at the association’s office at the Ejip industrial area.
Tri added that he deployed 200 traffic officers to cope with traffic jams on the main roads around the area.
Bekasi workers’ union chairman Obon Tabroni said that up to 20,000 workers from four unions in Bekasi had decided to block the toll road because Apindo did not implement the agreement both parties had negotiated, including a requirement that Apindo would withdraw its lawsuit challenging the Bekasi administration’s minimum wage increase.
Apindo’s Bekasi chapter had lodged a lawsuit to challenge the ruling issued by the West Java governor to set the minimum wage at Rp 1,491,866 (US$164.10) in Bekasi.
Hundreds of vehicles were reportedly stuck on the toll road and were forced to turn off their vehicles.
“I have to turn off my car as I don’t know how long the protest will last. I’ve been stuck here for almost two hours,” Mario, a Jakarta resident who was taking the toll road to go to Bandung, told The Jakarta Post on Thursday afternoon. (swd/dic)