From the IndoLeft news service comes this “solidarity appeal” from the Politics for the Poor-Indonesian National Front for Labour Struggle (FNPBI-PRM), regarding a mass rally to be held days before the parliamentary elections.
In the midst of the inability of the ‘yellow’ or pro-government trade unions to respond to these problems, the Solidarity Alliance for Labour Struggle (GSPB) and the Politics for the Poor-Indonesian National Front for Labour Struggle (FNPBI-PRM), are endeavoring to undertake consciousness building work and the mass organisation of workers in the Jakarta satellite city of Bekasi and surrounding areas.
This work has primarily been in the form of establishing labour struggle coordination posts in poor residential areas where workers live. The coordination posts are used to distribute leaflets, hold discussions and meetings, and for film showings and education seminars. To date, nine such labour struggle coordination posts have been established in Bekasi, and this continues to expand.
In addition to having to confront the global financial crisis, Indonesian workers are also faced with the legislative elections on April 9, followed by the election for president and vice-president on June 9. For Indonesia’s poor and working class, these elections can provide little hope for change – but rather more of the pro-capitalist and neoliberal policies that have been pursued by the parties elected in 2004 elections and are leading to the growing impoverishment of millions or ordinary Indonesians. Not one of the political parties participating in the elections has a track record of fighting for the interest of the working class and the poor. On the contrary, many of these parties are remnants of Suharto’s New Order regime or have been formed by former New Order generals, human rights violators, corrupt government officials or business tycoons.
It is because of this therefore, that on April 5 the GSPB along with a number of other organisations active in the people’s movement such as the women’s organisation Perempuan Mahardhika, the Union for the Politics of the Poor (PPRM), the Jakarta Poor People’s Union (PRMJ), the Politics for the Poor-National Student League for Democracy (LMND-PRM) and the Indonesian Buskers Union (SPI), will be holding a joint mass rally in Jakarta as part of this consciousness building work under the theme “Let’s Unite Against Capitalism, Let’s Unite Against the Elite Elections”. In addition to the meeting in Jakarta, similar mass meetings will also be held in other Indonesian cities.
The mass rally in Jakarta is planned to involve some 500 people and will be held at an indoor venue. The event will involve presentation by labour movement leaders – both those involved in initiating the rally plus other invited speakers. The rally will also include a people’s poetry reading and a choir singing of songs of struggle. The mass meeting is intended as part of preparations in the lead up to massive demonstrations on May Day this year.
In order to organise the event, we will need funds of some 20 million rupiah, or around US$2000. Unfortunately, efforts so far to raise funds from our own members have only be sufficient to cover the needs of the labour coordination posts that have already been established and fall far short of what will be needed for the cost of hiring an indoor venue or the transportation costs of participants. There will also be additional expenditures such as light refreshments and the cost of publicising the event.
We are writing to you to appeal for financial assistance to support this event. If you or your organisation is able to make a donation please send it to:
Account Holder: Jaringan Nasional Perempuan
Account Number: 0534-01-0037-73-50-6
Swift code: BRINIDJA
Budi Wardoyo, Coordinator FNPBI-PRM
It will be interesting to see if this is a sign that golput, or an election boycott, has traction among left organizations and whether it will be a centerpiece of strategy. Perhaps even more interesting, though, are the network of coordination posts being developed in Bekasi working class neighborhoods.