Monthly Archives: October 2012

Inside Indonesia: National Strike Shows Workers Are Back (In The Streets)

Said Iqbal addresses the strikers (Ocha Hermawan)

Latest Inside Indonesia article on the national strike from earlier this month:

An Australian lawyer working with the FSPMI says, ‘Union leaders from the FSPMI are transforming industrial relations in Indonesia, not only between employers and workers, but also between unions. What continues to impress me is the dedication of the people working for the FSPMI. Many work for free, living off donations and spending all their time talking to workers about their rights. Even some high up officials are not paid,’ she says.

 

Part of the success of the unions is their ability to combine Islam with the struggle for workers’ rights. This enables them to remain relevant to the lives of workers, and the principles of Islam assist the workers in making arguments for better treatment. In concluding his speech in East Jakarta Industrial Park, FSPMI leader Said Iqbal tells workers, ‘the angels will come down and take you to heaven for what you have done today.’

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Connection Between This Week’s Strike & Presidential Race?

While I will need a lot more evidence before I am convinced of the connection, The Wall Street Journal wonders aloud whether labor unrest like this week’s strike wave will play a role in the presidential race.

The current protests are supported by the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle, or PDI-P, the party of Ms. Sukarnoputri, who is seen as a contender in the 2014 presidential election. The eldest daughter of founding President Sukarno, Ms. Sukarnoputri attempted to make labor issues a part of her 2009 presidential bid; she could fare better this time in a time of perceived rising social inequality

Initial Gov’t Response To This Week’s Strikes

From Reuters:

Indonesia said on Thursday it would improve worker pay and restrict the use of temporary contracts in the face of a vow by union leaders, who staged a national strike this week, to press ahead with industrial action.

Chief Economics Minister Hatta Rajasa said the government would draft a regulation to increase worker pay and would quickly implement rules to improve conditions for workers not on fixed contracts. He gave no details of the pay increase.

Al Jazeera Has Video From Today’s Demos

To see their report, go here.

(For some reason, I was unable to embed the video. No doubt, a user error on my end)

Protests Smaller Than Expected?

The Jakarta Post is reporting that protests today are significantly smaller than original predictions, finding only a thousand workers at one of the protest locations.  We can probably expect some wrangling in the press about what accurate estimates should be.

There is also the question of how you are keeping count.  Demonstrations are scheduled in a decentralized manner, with protests occurring throughout the Jakarta area, so any official count will be difficult.  There is also the issue of whether we should be counting workers at the demonstrations or simply workers who are not at work.  Given reports of organizing going from workplace to workplace demanding workers walk off the job, there might be reason to think that the disruption of production is greater than the size of the crowds at demonstrations suggests.

One Day General Strike In Effect

“Factory workers take part in a protest in Cikarang, West Java, Indonesia, Wednesday, Oct. 3, 2012. Indonesian unions said more than 2 million factory workers have gone on a one-day strike across the country to call for higher wages and protest the hiring of contract workers.” (AP Photo)

From The Associated Press:

More than 2 million factory workers went on a one-day strike across Indonesia on Wednesday to demand better benefits and protest the hiring of contract workers, union officials said.

Hundreds of thousands of laborers from more than 700 companies in 80 industrial estates also took to the streets to demonstrate, national police spokesman Col. Agus Rianto said.

About 200,000 workers marched in the industrial city of Bekasi, just outside Jakarta, while waving flags and chanting “Workers unite! We can’t be defeated!”

The workers want an increase in the minimum wage, health insurance and social security for all employees and a revision of government policies that allow companies to hire temporary workers without benefits, said Yoris Raweyai, chairman of the Confederation of Indonesian Workers’ Union

Massive Labor Protests Scheduled For Tuesday In Jakarta

From The Jakarta Globe:

The Indonesian Council of Workers (MPBI) on Tuesday said it is planning to stage massive protests against the practice of outsourcing on Wednesday, potentially leading to major traffic congestion in the capital and its satellite cities.

“MPBI apologizes to the people of Indonesia if they feel their comfort is disturbed or they get trapped in congestion,” said Said Iqbal, the president of the Confederation of Indonesian Workers Unions (KSPI).

Iqbal, whose KSPI is part of the council, said Wednesday’s protests would be held at several locations throughout the Greater Jakarta area.

He said protests will be staged from 9:00 a.m. until 6:00 p.m., with the union expecting some 2.8 million people in 21 districts and municipalities and 80 industrial zones to take part. The largest demonstrations, involving some 500,000 people, will take place in seven industrial zones in Bekasi.

Iqbal said the protest was to demand a halt to the practice of outsourcing manpower, in which employers hire workers from other companies, commonly subjecting them to less generous employee benefits. The workers will also demand an end to low pay and will voice their rejection of the government’s proposed plan for workers to pay 2 percent of their wages toward health insurance.