The Jakarta Globe is reporting that there is one person dead and thirteen injured after a conflict over Serikat Pekerja Seluruh Indonesia (SPSI) union leadership in Riau turned violent.
Armed with spears, swords, firearms and knives, hundreds of union workers on Thursday went on a rampage through Rokan Hilir district, police said.
Adj. Sr. Comr. Bambang Sudarmaji, the district police chief, on Friday said the conflict centered on a leadership tussle at the All-Indonesian Workers Trade Union (SPSI). “We are still taking witness statements,” he said. “Supporters of one leader decided to launch an attack at the SPSI office of a rival leader in the Bagan Sinembah subdistrict of Rokan Hilir. They completely destroyed the office.” Bambang said preliminary investigations showed that supporters of Fuad Ahmad stormed the office of Muhammad Hendra Gunawan at about 8 a.m. on Thursday.
With May Day fast approaching, we can expect to see a lot of news coverage of May Day demonstrations. Already there are a number of articles on the preparations being made for demonstrations around the country. These include a Republika article on Serikat Pekerja Nasional’s (SPN) claim that it will mobilize 25,000 workers on May 6th, a Tempo article on preparations by Aliansi Buruh Menggugat (ABM) to mobilize workers in East Java, and an Okezone article on Kongres Aliansi Serikat Buruh Indonesia’s (KASBI) plans for demos across the country.
If you have news on May Day demonstrations, pass them along and they will be included in a round-up of this year’s May Day demos.
You can send a message in support of hundreds of garment workers at Alta Mode Inc who are currently being locked out by going here. Here is the background from Labourstart:
The embattled workers of Alta Mode Inc., a garments factory in the Mactan export zone and subcontractor for global brands such as Abercrombie & Fitch, are appealing for solidarity. Since February 15, a hundred workers have camped out in the main gates of the Mactan export zone, one of the biggest in the Philippines, after they were locked out…Over the course of a year of struggle, Alta Mode workers have held a sit down strike, barged into the export zone compound and camped out beside the factory premises. The fight of the Alta Mode workers is a struggle for job security and workers rights. Since labor unrest broke out at Alta Mode, workers have struggled over illegal shutdowns, erratic working days and inhuman production quotas. After workers organized, management interfered in the exercise of the right to unionize with aim of defeating union certification. No union has survived in the three decades-long history of the Mactan export zone, proving the no union, no strike policy of export zones.
As I attempt to stay somewhat up on the times, you can now follow Working Indonesia on twitter at: http://twitter.com/work_indonesia. Along with publishing the most recent blog posts, the twitter feed will also be used to share articles on Indonesian politics and social movements more generally.
Sign Reads "Don't Ignore the Votes of Migrant Workers in the 2009 Election." (Photo from Inside Indonesia & Migrant Care)
The latest edition of Inside Indonesia addresses the issues faced by Indonesian migrant workers. Many of the articles focus on the processes and pressures that lead migrant workers overseas and the difficult working conditions they face. More in line with the focus of this blog, there are a couple articles on efforts to organize around migrant worker issues. Those include Robert Tierney’s article “Oppressed and They Know It,” which describes Indonesian and Vietnamese migrant fishers who “sought the assistance of the Catholic Hope Workers’ Centre and of the Taiwan Association of Victims of Occupational Injuries to organize a protest outside the CLA (Council of Labour Affairs) in Taipei, demanding a massive pay-back of unpaid wages.” Wayne Palmer contributes an interview with Eni Lestari, the head of the Association of Indonesian Migrant Workers in Hong Kong. And Michele Ford and Wayhu Susilo provide a useful overview of the organizational landscape of migrant workers, concluding that
The absence of a credible migrant labour union is a serious issue for Indonesia. The government is (understandably) cynical about a migrant worker movement without migrant workers. And Indonesia’s organised labour movement continues to be slow to act in the area of migrant labour. With very limited room to move, migrant community groups and organisations like SBMI will keep searching for mechanisms that better represent Indonesia’s migrant workers. But for the time being, at least, migrant workers will have to continue relying on NGOs to keep migrant labour issues on the national agenda.
A new video from the IUF Nestle campaign in Panjang, Indonesia: