May Day

Solidaritas.net – Nearing the end of the month January 2015, part of the period of workers’ resistance to fight for wage increases through the mechanism of minimum wage (UMK/UMP) which at least has started in August 2014 when the first session of Wage Council, talks about the International Labor Day, known as May Day which falls on May 1 began to bloom among the workers.

History of the International Labor Day

Reporting from Wikipedia.org, the International Labor Day memorial itself backed to the struggle of the workers in the 19th century to demand a reduction in working hours to 8 hours a day. In those century, worked for 18 to 20 hours a day is a reality that must be faced by the workers.

The struggle demanded reduction of working hours to 8 hours a day was preceded by the workers in the United States. On May 1st, 1886, ten thousands of workers in the city of Chicago held a demonstration which turned into a general strike just in a few day and made thousands of factories were forced to shut down.

On May 4, 1886, the government responded by forcibly disperse the workers’ action by firing the workers which cause many workers dead. The incident occurred in Haymarket, Chicago, which then caused a strong protest reaction of the workers in other countries.

In July 4, 1989, at a meeting of workers from around the world in Paris, the Second International Congress passed a resolution which reads:

“A large international action should be organized on a certain day in which all countries and cities at the same time, on the day agreed upon, all the workers demanded that the government legally reduce working hours to 8 hours per day, and perform all results of France International Labor Congress.”

May Day in Indonesia

Reporting from Berdikari Online, Indonesia began to commemorate International Labor Day or May Day in 1918, held in Surabaya by hundreds of members of the United Workers’ Kung Tang Hwee, which actually based in Shanghai.

From 1918 to 1926, the labor movement in Indonesia routinely held May Day with demonstrations and strikes demanding better wages, reduced working hours to termination issue.

After 1926, with the outbreak of armed rebellion against Dutch colonial rule, May Day is difficult to be implemented because of the prohibition from the colonial government at that time. Until after the independence of Indonesia, in 1946 May Day commemoration held back by the workers, even the Indonesian government issued a Work Act no. 12 1948 authorizing May 1 as Labor Day and a national holiday.

Reporting from Wikipedia.org, since the ruling of counter-revolutionary government, the New Order regime, prohibited the international Labor Day or May Day to be commemorate, even considered a subversive movement because it is considered as a part of communist activities and events associated with G.30S movement in 1965. This assessment was completely wrong considering many countries in the world which non-communist was set May 1st as Labor Day and a national holiday in their country. Indeed only reason which raised by the New Order regime to demolished the labor movement, and proved throughout the rule of New Order regime, the labor movement has always been suppressed and silenced.

Attempt to roll back the International Labor Day began at the 1990’s and then after the fall of the New Order militaristic regime, the International Labor Day or May Day commemorate is back regularly held by the labor movement in Indonesia.

On May 1st, 2013, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has set May 1st as a national holidays which effectively started in 2014. These regulation influenced by the rise of labor movement in 2012 which demanded the abolition of outsourcing and rejection of low wages.

Reflecting the historical background, May Day is a moment of unity for the labor movement to mobilize the masses and voiced demands on improving the welfare of the workers more widely, not only at national level, but also to the international level. It was not just a celebration (fiesta) which eliminated the essence of the labor movement who has the historical responsibility as a driving force to escalated the people’s welfare.

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