Monthly Archives: October 2010

The Globalization Tapes

Following this link you can watch a documentary made in Indonesia called The Globalization Tapes.  It is a collaboration between the International Union of Foodworkers (IUF) and the Independent Plantation Workers’ Union of Sumatra in 2002, in Indonesian with English subtitles.

The film deals with the effects of globalization from the perspective of plantation workers in Sumatra.  While similar documentaries tend to be heavy handed or preachy, this film has a certain sense of humor and lighter touch that, I would suggest, is ultimately more empowering.


SBK KASBI Protest Outside Japanese Consulate

Workers from Serikat Buruh Kerakyatan Kongres Aliansi Serikat Buruh Indonesia (SBK Kasbi) protested outside the Japanese consulate in Surabaya today over the union busting tactics of Japanese company PT SK Foods Indonesia.  According to activists, workers at a shrimp and fish processing location have been unable to form a union due to intimidation tactics by management, including threats of dismissal, lowering of wages, cutting vacation time, and refusal to negotiate with the union.

In October, SBK KASBI reported management to police.  While still quite rare, there have been cases of where managers have faced criminal charges for denying workers freedom of association, including a successful case brought by Federation of Indonesian Metalworkers Union (FSPMI) against a Japanese company last year.

Rupiah and Cents

As was mentioned previously on this blog, it is regional minimum wage setting season.  If news reports are any indication, its hard to see the process as well ordered.

In Banyuwangi, East Java, the labor and business representatives have been unable to come to an agreement on a regional minimum wage to suggest to the East Java Governor.  Instead, they will each be sending their own suggestions.  Yet, what is notable here is just how close their numbers are.  Business representatives are suggesting Rp 865,000/month, while labor is suggesting Rp 868,000/month.  That’s a difference of 0.34% or about 4 dollars over an entire year.

At the other end of the spectrum, there were SPSI demonstrations in Sidoarjo, East Java last week calling for a minimum wage of Rp 2,000,000 per month, which is nearly double Sidarjo’s current minimum wage of Rp 1,000,500.  The leader of the demo promised more street actions, but they are clearly at a very different stage in the negotiating process.

KASBI Protest Against SBY

(Foto: Rizki Diputra/Okezone)

The Kongres Aliansi Serikat Buruh Indonesia (KASBI – Congress of the Alliance of Indonesian Labor Unions) brought the bacon, or this case a paper pig head, to their anti-SBY protest in Jakarta yesterday, while chanting that the president and vice-president are neoliberal lackeys.  The leader of the protest said the administration has cared more about development projects than the well being of workers and has allowed mass layoffs and outsourcing.

The use of the pig head may not seem like a newsworthy element of the protest, but the police have banned the use of animals in protests, after SBY took offense to being compared to a water buffalo (“big, lazy, and stupid”) during protests in February.

E-Action: Support Vietnamese Activists Facing Prison

Labourstart‘s newest “act now” campaign is in support of labor rights advocates in Vietnam who are facing time in prison.  Below is the story.  To send a message in support of these three young activists, click here

Three Vietnamese labour rights advocates face 5-15 years imprisonment for helping organise a strike by 10,000 workers at the My Phong shoe factory in January 2010. Doan Huy Chuong, Nguyen Hoang Quoc Hung, and Do Thi Minh Hanh, all in their 20’s, have been detained virtually incommunicado since their arrests in February. The trial is expected in late October 2010.

The “crimes” alleged by prosecutors are that Doan Huy Chuong, Nguyen Hoang Quoc Hung, and Do Thi Minh Hanh worked in an organised manner, distributed leaflets expressing discontent about working conditions and about the authorities, and helped workers to organise a strike. All of these activities ought to be legal, under Vietnam’s own Constitution and in international instruments to which Vietnam is a signatory. The charges that they encouraged workers to destroy factory properties are without evidence and appear made-up.

Working Indonesia Now On UnionBook

You can find Working Indonesia on the new version of the UnionBook website here.

ABM Prepares Protests Opposing President

We no longer trust SBY, we no longer trust the parliament to carry out an impeachment. We do not want this people’s movement to be taken over by the parliament. Essentially, the people do not trust SBY-Boediono or the parliament. – Budi Wardoyo, Aliansi Buruh Menggugat

According to an article from Indowarta translated by the IndoLeft news service, Aliansi Buruh Menggugat is going to mark the end of SBY’s first year in office since re-election with protests around the country.

Besides demonstrating their disappointment in the first year of the SBY’s second term, the protests will also be “rejecting revisions to Law Number 13/2003 on Labour and the privatisation of state-owned industries, demanding the development of the national industry and the nationalisation of mining and gas industries under the control of the people, opposing low wages and calling for free education and healthcare.”