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.’
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
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.
To see their report, go here.
(For some reason, I was unable to embed the video. No doubt, a user error on my end)
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.