Okezone, translated into English by the Indoleft News Service, has this report of pre-May Day demonstration by Aliansi Buruh Menggugat (ABM) and Serikat Pekerja Kereta Api Jakarta [Greater Jakarta Railway Workers Trade Union] (SPKAJ):
In the lead up to the commemoration of International Labour Day or May Day, the Workers Challenge Alliance (ABM) and the Greater Jakarta Railway Workers Trade Union (SPKAJ) are planning massive actions in Jakarta on May 1. As part of the preparations for May Day, the groups held a protest action at the University of Indonesia (UI) train station in front of the university this afternoon. Aside from collecting donations from sympathisers, they also called for the main agenda item for May Day to be rejecting the results of the April 9 legislative elections. In order to attract support from UI students, they gave speeches and handed out hundreds of May Day leaflets with calls to reject the election results.
According to the workers, the recent elections were not a people’s election, were fraudulent and are illegitimate. The grounds for the workers’ rejection of the elections is because the ‘festival of democracy’ failed to give birth to an elite or assembly members who side with the interests of workers – for example who have the courage to abolish contract labour systems (outsourcing) which is extremely harmful to workers.
The Jakarta Globe published this article on the discussion, so often raised by APINDO, to revise 2003’s labor legislation. In the article, APINDO’s secretary general provides the usual chorus:
All the clauses involved with strikes and contract terminations, including compensation, put a huge burden on our hands, especially during the current economic crisis.
Laborers from PT. Toshiba CPI stage a rally in front of the Japanese embassy in Central Jakarta on Monday. They demanded that the company grant them their right to form a union and improve welfare." (Jakarta Post)
The current issue of the Critical Asian Studies includes a great article on Indonesian migrant workers in Macau. The article uses the case of Indonesian migrant workers in Macau to show that Asia’s booming mega-cities, despite more optimistic discourses, rely heavily on the vulnerable and easiliy exploitable labor of undocumented migrant workers. Through on the ground interviews with undocumented Indonesian workers, the article explicates how various interests in Indonesia, Hong Kong, and Macau combine to create a gendered class of flexible labor that, in turn, makes these mega-cities possible.
Nataniel Mehr, who has a forthcoming book called Constructive Bloodbath In Indonesia: The US, Britain, and the Mass Killings of 1965-66, has written an article in Monthly Review titled “The Fall of the Indonesian Communist Party,” which places the PKI’s own ideology in relation to Russian and Chinese policies of the time. Perhaps most interesting to me was his inclusion of a Nov. 1966 self-assessment by exhiled PKI leaders in China.
Thousands of banking workers have gone out on strike at Singapore-based United Overseas Bank’s Indonesia subsidiary, PT Bank UOB Buana, disrupting business at branches across the country and threatening to stay out for up to 3 days. While press coverage naturally focuses on issues of pay and bonuses, the union’s concerns also include who qualifies as a full-time employee and reforms to its pension plan.
The Jakarta Post and Jakarta Globe articles offer differing figures on the amount of the demanded pay increase, perhaps the result of the contested realm of company and union contract costing. What both articles agree on is the fact that, despite management’s citing the global financial crisis, UOB posted increased profits in the first quarter of 2009 over the first quarter of 2008.
Here are the reporters on the strike from Tempo Interaktif, Detik, and Kompas, with some interesting variations in the focus of the coverage.
[Update 4/21/09]: The Jakarta Post is reporting that the UOB Buana workers have set another strike deadline for the end of April.
The Jakarta Post is reporting the Alliance of Labor Unions Against Privatization (Alkatras), an organization of state-owned enterprise labor unions, held a conference announcing their support of retired Gen. Prabowo Subianto‘s Great Indonesia Movement Party (Gerindra). The government is concerned because this event appears to be breaking a law against employee’s of state owned enterprises actively campaigning in elections.
For others concerned with human rights, it may be puzzling, if not alarming, that a labor organization would support a candidate with as dubious a human rights record as Prabowo, which includes accusations of “human rights abuses during his tour of duty in East Timor and involvement in the kidnappings, torture, abuse and murder of anti-Soeharto intellectuals and activists during the turmoil of 1998.” However, as a part of his version of economic nationalism, Prabowo has made explicit overtures to the SOE labor unions by opposing privatization. Perhaps this incident is a sign that they are paying off, though it is hard to say from the article how representative Alkatras is of the SOE workforce as a whole.
[Update 4/7/09]: The SOE Minister made a statement today putting distance between the SOE’s leadership and the statements made by Alkatras in support of Prabowo. That is, despite the potential crossover interest of labor and mangement on the issue of privatization of the SOE’s and the fact that the press conference was held at PLN headquarters.