“[The sound] is extreme, isn’t it? Sometimes, when I receive state guests or have other important events, it disrupts our activities. In foreign countries, protests using megaphones are usually regulated.”

SBY’s comments upon hearing hundreds of workers from Congress Alliance of Indonesian Labor Unions (KASBI) were protesting in front of the palace



E-Action: Tell Fuji Seat & Astra Daihatsu to Follow Labor Law

The Asian TNC Monitoring Network has posted a petition calling on  PT Astra Daihatsu Motor, and its supplier PT Fuji Seat, to respect Indonesian labor law. The petition claims that, along with violating Indonesia’s labor laws regarding contract workers, the company has intimidated and dismissed members of the local labor union (SERBUK Fuji Seat). For more information on the case, see here.

Li & Fung Connected to PT Mulia Campaign in Jakarta

Today’s New York Times has a fascinating front-page article on Li and Fung, a apparel industry sourcing and logistics firm that is described by the AFL-CIO’s international affairs director is a key player in the industry’s race-to-the-bottom labor practices.  The article mentions Li & Fung’s connection to at least one campaign in Indonesia, a union busting case at the PT Mulia factory in Jakarta, which I had previously posted about.

Here is the article’s explanation of Li & Fung’s link to Indonesia:

In 2007, more than a dozen garment workers at the PT. Mulia Knitting Factory in Jakarta, Indonesia, who were making clothes for Polo Ralph Lauren and Tommy Hilfiger were fired, allegedly for trying to form a union — the kind of dismissal that violates Indonesian law. Li & Fung investigated and did not find any violations of workers’ rights, a spokeswoman said.

But labor advocates found that Li & Fung did not interview any of the dismissed workers and conducted all employee interviews in the factory, often with managers present. In explaining why it would not sever ties to the factory or push for reforms, Tommy Hilfiger cited the Li & Fung findings.

“Li & Fung claims to be monitoring factory conditions, but they don’t publicly release their investigation reports or even the full list of the factories they use, so it’s impossible for independent organizations to assess the effectiveness of their monitoring,” said Tim Connor, a former labor rights advocacy coordinator for Oxfam.

Migrant Households and the Informal Sector

In a new article from the Bulletin of Indonesian Economic StudiesChris Manning and Devanto S. Pratomo looks the labor market outcomes for migrants and non-migrants, particularly if they end up in the informal sectors.  The link to the article is here, but requires access. Here are the findings from the abstract:

We find that long-term migrants (LTMs) tend to gravitate to the small-business sector and to jobs with regular wages, whereas recent and very recent migrants are more likely to work in the informal sector. Our findings on the labour-market outcomes of successive generations of migrants are less conclusive. While a larger proportion of LTM children than that of their parents work in the formal sector, the children of migrant heads of households are less likely than those of non-migrants to find formal-sector jobs. We also find that distortionary labour-market regulations appear to diminish the overall benefits of migration.

Jakarta’s EPL Party & Indonesia’s Forgotton Domestic Players

A recent column by Anthony Sutton in The Jakarta Globe highlights the unsettling juxtaposition between the celebrated visits to Jakarta by the world’s most famous football clubs and the otherwise rampant dysfunction of the Indonesian football industry. Among other issues in the Indonesian game, there are serious labor issues involving player salaries. From the column:

The clowns were here before the English Premier League traveling circus arrived and will be here long after it is gone. The English clubs’ legacy is YouTube videos of crazy, crazy nights at Jakarta’s Gelora Bung Karno Stadium and that’s about it.

Indonesian players will continue to not get paid. I wonder if the likes of Olivier Giroud, Raheem Sterling or Fernando Torres spared a thought about them? I wonder if they even knew Indonesian footballers were ritually going months without receiving their salaries and the world’s governing body, FIFA, was happy to turn a blind eye.

I wonder if anyone touched upon Diego Mendieta, the Paraguayan footballer left to die a lonely death in a Solo hospital last year because nobody felt the need to honor contracts and pay him the money he was owed that could have at least seen him return home to spend his final days with family.

Kyais in Industrial Relations

From M. C. Ricklefs’ very recent book, Islamisation and Its Oppoents in Java, c.1930 to the Present, a mention of Kyais (definition here) getting involved in industrial relations:

Kyias who convey sanctity and have supernatural reputations are highly regarded in a society so steeped in ideas of the occult, but kyais are not just other-worldly figures, as we have seen. In Kediri, where they are so prominent, they have been involved in encouraging and facilitating communications between the giant Gudang Garam tobacco factory and its employees when there are industrial disputes. In 2002, for example, the NU  [Nahdlatul Ulama] leaders issued advice (taushiah) supporting the action of the union in defending the rights of workers, urging the management to be more receptive and prudent, asking both sides to restrain themselves and security authorities not to be repressive, and advising all to be wary of provocations. (p. 350)

Max Lane on Gerindra’s ‘Populism’

From Max Lane’s recent article for the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies publication Perspective, in which he sets the stage for Indonesia’s 2014 elections:

Another former general who has declared his candidacy is Prabowo Subianto of GERINDRA. Subianto is more controversial and more strongly associated with the New Order’s reputation for repression. He played an active role in 1997 and 1998 in trying to preserve the Suharto government in the face of popular opposition, even to the extent of organizing the kidnapping of student activists. He was eventually dismissed from the Army for these actions. Subianto’s difficulty is that Gerindra is also unlikely, based on present indications, to win more than 20% of the popular vote. In 2009, Gerindra only received 4.4% of the popular vote, while recent polls suggest that its support rating is at 11%. Subianto’s profile is based more on a perceived comparison, in some segments of the electorate, with Yudhoyono, where the latter is seen to be without combat experience and to be indecisive, while the former is seen as a decisive combat officer. However, this niche will not come into play since Subianto will not be facing Yudhoyono in the 2014 election.

In the 2004 election, Subianto stood as Vice-President in a Megawati-Subianto team. Could this happen again? Gerindra’s parliamentary record has seen it align more frequently with the ruling coalition than with the PDIP. Even in June this year when Gerindra voted against fuel price increases, along with the PDIP (and Hanura and PKS), it did so in a last minute switch. Gerindra and Prabowo used rhetoric that is similar to those of the PDIP on the “peoples’ economics” and so on, but it has also spoken out against wage rises and labour demonstrations while the PDIP has associated itself with such demands.