A recent Jakarta Post article asked labor activists and experts to explain the rise in worker protests. Here are their quotes:
Mudhofir – Confederation of Indonesian Prosperity Trade Unions (KSBSI)
Confederation of Indonesian Prosperity Trade Unions (KSBSI) president Mudhofir, 47, said there was a rise of a stronger and more localized labor movement resulting from the shift in core labor issues in the past few decades. “Unlike in the past, the agenda of most labor unions nowadays has moved ahead to ensure workers in the regions receive a proper wage. This has made their operation more localized but with a stronger support base,” said Mudhofir
Said Iqbal – Federation of Indonesian Metal Workers Union (FSPMI)
Federation of Indonesian Metal Workers Union (FSPMI) president Said Iqbal said the fragmentation among Indonesian labor unions was only a matter of geography but clearly not because they shared extremely different goals.
“If we look closely at all labor unions in Indonesia, we can easily conclude that they actually work to focus on promoting several issues, including the abolition of the outsourcing system and the implementation of fair regional minimum wages and a social security system,” he said.
“So basically it’s not difficult to unite them as long as they agree to highlight which issue they want to promote in a particular period.”
Iqbal, who was appointed chairman of the Indonesian Trade Union Confederation (KSPI) last week, said the recent rally in Bekasi and Tangerang had shown that the labor movement in the areas, where labor-intensive companies are concentrated, was obviously more vibrant than those in smaller cities.
According to Iqbal, the recent awakening of the labor movement from its long slumber is because labor activists are in the process of consolidating and building a new and stronger support base.
Indrasari Tjandraningsih – Akatiga Center for Social Analysis
Labor researcher Indrasari Tjandraningsih from the Bandung-based Akatiga social analysis center said that players in the labor movement nowadays were “smarter” compared to those in the past decade, mainly because most of their leaders had university degrees and a vast network with established local and foreign labor organizations.
Indrasari suggested that the government open dialogue with these new breed of labor leaders since she believed that they had the intellectual capability to engage in talks.
“Even if they have to stage a protest, labor unions will not do it in front of their companies, but at the House of Representatives, ministerial offices or the presidential palace, showing that they understand the labor system and know who they should protest to,” she said.
“Shutting down toll roads is only their last resort when negotiations collapse.”