More than 100,000 young workers and students hit the streets of Jakarta today to demonstrate for Labour Day, a national holiday here, as elsewhere in the world. The main streets were blocked for the morning as teams of workers carried banners bearing slogans against privatization of state-owned companies, imperialism, opposition to cheap labour and price hikes, and demanding improvement in public welfare. I couldn’t read most of the banners!
Thousands of workers arrived by bus from around Java. The march was peaceful, assisted by a strong army and police presence. We did notice some soldiers tapping their feet in time to the drumming. Chanting, peace signs and smiles made the day quite exhilarating.
We joined in, at first timidly along the fringes, snapping photos, then at the tail end of the march, two radical old Aussies, remembering when Labour Day meant something in our own country and when we used to march for the same reasons.