Inside Indonesia: Labor’s Power Seen In The Streets

The online magazine Inside Indonesia has dedicated its latest edition to the question of “Where Is The Left?” and its includes an article on the current status of the labor movement that argues that despite the lack of inroads labor organizations have made in politics and institutional power, their power has emerged in the form of street protests.  Here is an excerpt:

As far as labour groups are concerned, the strategy of street protests is fundamentally different from the more established ways of dealing with the state and business interests in that it thrives in the absence or in the non-functioning of official institutions of representation, such as political parties, parliaments and the tripartite bodies. Where they perceive institutions of political power to be unresponsive, labour groups provide alternative channels of political participation by their public claim-making and collective actions. Street politics force the reconfiguration of power relations in ways that bypass the careful negotiations and deal-making that take place inside official political institutions. Just when democracy in Indonesia is taking shape and many people are most concerned with its institutions and procedures, labour groups are developing a tradition of popular challenges by way of conflicts, confrontation and potentially dangerous disputes.

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