May Day: the history of unity

Three Indonesian union confederations, KSPI (Confederation of Indonesia Trade Unions), KSBSI (Confederation of Prosperous Indonesia Labor Unions) and KSPSI (Confederation of All Indonesia Trade Unions) along with their affiliates poured into the main street of Jakarta to celebrate May Day Rally amid a strict security from police and security force. The rally started from Hotel Indonesia Boulevard (Bundaran HI) to Constitution Court (Mahkamah Konstitusi – MK) and finally the mass gathered and held a stage in front of Presidential Palace. The event continued with labour big meeting (Rapat Akbar Buruh) at Gelora Bung Karno with participation of about 100,000 labours.

On the event, the three confederations formed an unprecedented “Majelis Pekerja Buruh Indonesia” (Indonesia Workers-Labours Council). The council establishment should be an important point for labour unity and inspiration for reformation of united labour movement in Indonesia. 

In their press release delivered to media during the rally, the three presidents of the confederations called for better condition for all workers. The confederations called on government to scrap the practice of outsourcing, to guarantee pensions and social security, to revise its low-wages policies, a halt to union busting, recognition to domestic workers and better protection for migrant workers.

Strong unions are the prerequisite for creating the welfare of labours, and such condition is strongly believed by unions in Indonesia. After years of dispersion, labours and their unions have started to build “common struggles” for promoting their interests such as better wage and social security and to encourage them in exercising out their common actions. United labours are a must for them to strengthen their political and economic bargain position and to impose an influence upon public policy, especially one related to labour issues.

Their common actions have started since January as they blocked off a major toll road outside Jakarta, until their demand for minimum wage increment was met. Their following action is on 20 March as thousands of labours downed to streets rejecting government proposal to raise fuel price. Strong pressure from unions and other social institutions has forcedly made government to postpone its plan to increase fuel price. The action the unions have taken might be seen as a social movement and putting them in a significant position to defend a universal social-economic interests of labours.

During the May Day rally, the labours stopped in front of the Constitutional Court and led Labour Advocate Team for Pro-People State Budget filing a judicial review of Law No. 4/2012 on 2012 State Budget Amendment. There are 3 articles filed to be reviewed which are article 7 verse (1), article 6A and article 15A. The three articles are related to fuel price establishment of which are against the Constitution and the unions have requested the Constitutional Court to order government to allocate the budget for other sectors most benefit for public. The action of course is strongly political-loaded, a resistance reflecting the protection of public interests.

Cooperation among the confederations of course cannot be separated from leaders of four confederations who have proposed and established Joint Secretariat of the Indonesia Jobs Pact on 13 December 2011. In simple way, the secretariat is to try to implement a policies portfolio to promote jobs, wider social security, and respect for international labour standards, in addition to promote social dialogues and re-balance policies for a more sustainable and inclusive future based on both a decent working agenda and a fair model for globalization

In this sense, union has made its own correction, with long history of solidarity, fights for workers’ rights and social justice for that only through standing together side by side with all workers and their unions their dreams for better life can be achieved.

Manifesto Indonesian Labour read during the labour meeting that consists of three big issues which are food, freedom, and protection of labour welfare throughout Indonesia. The manifesto emphasizes the position Indonesia unions take within the country democracy. As one of democracy pillars, the unions are fighting for manifestation of social fairness and welfare for all Indonesia people. By this, it is clear that revitalization of Indonesia union movement has taken its direction in which unions are not merely economic actors but an integral part of and have important functions in civil society. Declaration of Indonesia Worker-Labour Council has opened a golden opportunity for the confederations to take up a strong partnership and to unite by embracing challenges of unions’ multiplicity. The moment of this May Day commemoration should be a historical key and a way to assist unions in strengthening and transforming their movement in Indonesia into a more solid and united movement.

Read this original article here


One thought on “May Day: the history of unity

  1. Reblogged this on Fair For All and commented:
    Many countries have multiple peak union bodies: the USA has two and Japan and Indonesia each have three. The benefit is that these organisations are more united internally but the downside is that, unless they speak together, the message can appear muddled and confused. This May Day, Indonesia’s confederations all managed to speak as one, calling for an end to outsourcing, universal social security, higher wages, protection of the right to organise and recognition of domestic workers. Good stuff!

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