Monthly Archives: February 2013

Photo Essay of Indonesian Domestic Workers Abroad


From NYT: “Future maids are introduced to agency recruiters from Hong Kong. If chosen, they will have to pay the agency a fee of more than $1,700 American. Because they do not have that money upfront, they sign a loan agreement with a financial institution in Indonesia. The money is then shared by the training camp, the Indonesian government and the agency in Hong Kong.” (Gratiane de Moustier)

The New York Times “Lens” blog has a series of photographs by Gratiane de Moustier documenting the lives of Indonesian domestic workers abroad.  You can see the full series by following the link here.


From NYT: “Lis, 24, photographed in Bethune House, a shelter for migrant women workers in Hong Kong. Lis came from East Java in January 2012.” (Gratiane de Moustier)


PT Kizone Workers Visit Wayne State



Courtesy Christopher Ehrmann (from left to right) PT Kizone union leader Aslam Hidayat, translator Rebecca Gluckstein and PT Kizone employee Heni speak to Wayne Staters, Feb. 14 (The South End)


From The South End:

On Feb. 14, two Indonesian workers accompanied by their translator, Rebecca Gluckstein, came to Wayne State to tell their story of the Adidas corporation’s refusal to pay almost $2 million dollars in severance pay to their workers at a factory called PT Kizone. PT Kizone was a clothing factory located in Tangerang, Indonesia that produced clothing for Adidas, according to a United Students Against Sweatshops flyer. The factory employed about 2,800 workers, most of whom were paid $0.60 per hour on average.

The Meaning of Jakarta’s New Minimum Wage

From China Daily:

With a middle class said to number around 35 million out of a total population of more than 260 million, the vast army of workers see the new-found prosperity having little impact on their lives.


In Jakarta and other major industrial centers, strikes have become an everyday occurrence as workers demand better pay and conditions.


On Jan 1, new minimum wages, determined by region, were introduced across Indonesia. The minimum wage in Jakarta goes up by 44 percent from 1.53 million rupiah to 2.2 million rupiah ($158-$228) a month. This was part of an election pledge last year by Jakarta’s new governor Joko ‘Jokowi’ Widodo in a bid to quell growing industrial unrest in the capital where some of the world’s leading sportswear companies have their factories.


Economist Chris Manning says the announcement of the rise in minimum wage was greeted as a “victory” by the union movement, especially among the city’s 3 million employees who earn this or less.


“Needless to say, most businesses have opposed the magnitude of the increases,” says Manning, an adjunct associate professor at the Arndt-Corden Department of Economics at the Crawford School of Public Policy, Australian National University.


By implementing the 44 percent increase, Jakarta governor Joko Widodo has taken a controversial step not only for his city but also, indirectly, for the country.


Around the country, employers are battling with demands for increased wages while trying to remain competitive in a fiercely competitive global marketplace.


According to a report in the Jakarta Globe, 47 companies have been exempted by the government from paying employees the new minimum wage.

Manpower Minister Muhaimin Iskandar said 941 firms had applied for the exemption.


The minimum wage for 2013 has been the center of a heated national debate after substantial increases were agreed upon in key areas such as Jakarta and West Java, where there are high concentrations of labor-intensive industries.

Recent Works on Political Economy in Indonesia

The latest articles from the Journal of Contemporary Asia include a number of pieces on the political economy of contemporary Indonesia.  Particularly interesting are articles by Vedi Hadiz and Edward Aspinall that consider current class analysis in Indonesia through the lens of Richard Robison’s 1986 book The Rise of Capital.

While much of the analysis looks at the political economy of elite classes and their relation to the state, Aspinall has this to say about political contestation from below:

Although the organised representation of lower class interests remains fragmented in the post-transition period (Aspinall 2013), there are nevertheless many avenues for their expression in the political field. In the policy positions of governments at all levels over the last five to ten years we have seen many populist attempts to appeal to lower class constituencies, for instance, in industrial relations policy or the emergence of new health care and social security regimes at the local level (see Rosser, Wilson, and Sulistiyanto 2011). In sections of the urban middle classes, on the other hand, we can identify a committed and even enthusiastic social base for democratic rule and more thorough-going liberal reforms. These forces have not dominated the Indonesian transition, but their influence has not been negligible either. We need an analysis of Indonesian class politics that takes them into account, too, rather than writing them out of the frame (13)

Al-Jazeera Report on Minimum Wage in Jakarta


You can view an Al-Jazeera video report on struggles over the minimum wage in Jakarta by following the link

Tens of thousands of people are protesting in Indonesia against government plans to delay its planned increase of the minimum wage.

Said Iqbal, a union labour leader in Jakarta, the capital, told Al Jazeera on Wednesday that workers are continuing to demonstrate because they “need the government to implement a health insurance and pension system for all Indonesians”.


Many workers say that higher salaries are needed to cope with the rising cost of living, including housing prices.


Many employees have yet to receive a pay increase because employers are still negotiating with the government over the matter, causing delays.


The fresh protests come a day after the government decided to raise minimum salaries by about 40 percent – to about $200.

PT Kizone Workers Touring United States

Badidas Campaign and Worker Tour

From United Students Against Sweatshops

Today — in solidarity with Adidas workers across the globe — we announce the launch of the Badidas Campaign and Worker Tour.

It’s been 22 months since PT Kizone, an Adidas subcontractor in Indonesia, shut down without paying legally-mandated severance to its 2,800 workers. 22 months that those 2,800 workers have struggled to make ends meet, pulling their children out of school and being pushed out of their homes as more than two-thirds of them remain out of work. 22 months that Adidas has stubbornly refused to pay a single cent in severance.

Next week, thousands of fashion industry glitterati will descend on New York City for Fashion Week — and Adidas will be there as well, staging a glamorous and expensive gala for its Y-3 fashion line. The glitterati won’t be the only ones attending, though.

But it doesn’t end there. After Fashion Week, we’re going on tour.

Kicking off in New York City, we’ll go to cities across the country to spread the word about Adidas’s misdeeds, visiting campuses like Fordham University, Penn State, Villanova University, and Temple University in the first week alone.

For more information on the tour, click here.