Peoples Liberation Party: support the strike.
WE MUST: (minimal) 50% wage increase; Abolish Outsourcing; Social Insurance for all the people; and STOP PRODUCTION (STRIKE) on a National Scale!
Strike! Strike! Strike! The Labour United Front with the name Labour Movement National Consolidation (KNGB) was established within less than three weeks. Its architects were the Konfederasi Serikat Pekerja Indonesia, Confederation of Indonesian Trade Unions (KSPI), the Sekretariat Bersama Buruh, Workers Joint Secretariat (Sekber Buruh), the Konfederasi Serikat Nasional, National Trade Union Confederation (KSN) and several other union federations and regional alliances. The Peoples’ Liberation Party (PPR), as one element of Sekber Buruh, has participated in building the KNGB.
As the Indonesian Labour Consultative Assembly (MPBI) stagnated, the KNGB was born uniting different political and ideological perspectives able to find a basis for cooperation, including the necessary compromises among groups. The basis for this was the agreement to struggle for three demands: a minimum increase of 50% to the minimum wage; the abolition of Outsourcing (i.e. labour hire) and Social Insurance for the People. It was also agreed that the method of struggle would be: A NATIONAL STRIKE!
This national strike needs to be supported not only by all Indonesian workers, and internationally, but by the whole people. Every gain made, however small, will be provide inspiration to struggle for greater and greater victories. In this way the great goal of power finally being in the hands of the workers and the people – so that the conditions will be more propitious for changing to a better structure for society – will be more clearly in sight.
This national strike must be supported also as a response to the attacks on labour that have been launched following the mass picket campaigns (geruduk) and national strike of last year. Pro-capitalist academics, the government, the employers association, the bosses and their thug gangs have been struggling hard to smash the workers’ resistance which they realized has awakened over the last 2 years fighting for the freedom to organize, security of employment, a decent wage, and many other demands.
These attacks have been physical, like the arracks by the preman gangs, as well as police and army, on the workers at the Enkei, Suzuki and Kalbe Farma factories. There also has been the attacks in the form of the statements by the academics, employer association and the government that a 50% increase in the national minimum wage is irrational.
It is clear that the regime and the employers do not want to suffer the big losses that will result from a win by the workers’ for these demands. Indeed, if these demands are won, it is not all impossible that this will inspire resistance on other fronts, such as among the farmers who are fighting land grabbing and produce dumping; students who are fighting the corporatization (liberalisasi) or the urban poor fighting eviction from their homes.
This national strike must succeed! It Must! Despite the fact that the Konfederasi Serikat Pekerja Seluruh Indonesia, Confederation of the All-Indonesian Workers Union (KSPSI) and Konfederasi Serikat Buruh Sejahtera Indonesia, Confederation of Prosperity Labour Unions (KSBSI), as members of the MPBI which initiated the first (2012) national strike, have decided not to join the KNGB and are not supporting the national strike because of “differences over strategy for winning demands”. And also Kongres Aliansi Serikat Buruh Indonesia, Indonesian Trade Union Congress Alliance (KASBI) has not wanted to unite. This is despite that the facts iof historical experience have shown that both the gains that have been won in terms of security of employment and wage increases – even winning 40% increases – as well as a significant growth in union membership was the result of national mobile mass picketing campaigns (geruduk pabrik) and the National Strike!
When [Governor of Jakarta] Jokowi was faced by the media he replied: “the relationship between employer and workers are not conflictual relations but relations of cooperation, so they must be harmonious”. So clearly he is wrong and is defending the employers’ interests. When we see the low wages of the workers, and the big profits obtained by the employer, we see a relationship that does not reflect being “partners”: one partner, the employer, gets the benefit, the other, the workers, are ripped off. This is an exploitative relationship. So, thus, there will also be conflict.
Let’s look at the facts. Put aside for the moment, the technology intensive electrionic, automotive, steel and mining sectors, whetre the companies make money not only from exploiting the workers but also the stock market mechanisms and futures market mechanisms. Let’s look at textiles. Here we here so aoiften the argument that if the textile companies pay a 50% increase they will starting making big losses.
Every textile worker poroduces 3 or 4 product pieces a day. Most of these products are priced around 200,000 rupiah (approx $20) per item. So the worker will be producing oproduct worth around 800,000 rupiah ($80) per day. Most are paid less than $5-6 per day. And this is in Jakarta. In the smaller cities like Sukabumi, Subang, Cilacap, Demak, and so on, they get even less.
Given too they have access to cheap raw materials from within the country, the textile companies are making a profit ten times what the workers are earning. This is completely exploitative.
So an increase in the monthly wage of a textile worker from Rp 2, 290.000 (as in Jakarta) to (a minimum) of Rp. 3,435.000 is only slightly decreasing the capitalist’s profit. The textile companies are not going to collapse. To campaign that the 50% increase will cause the companies to close up, is siding with the employer not that workers!
It should also asserted to that the 50% increase, along with social insurance, is a rational increase as it is required because it is impossible for a worker earning Rp,2,290,000 to live and develop as an individual human being, let along as a parent responsible for developing the capacities of their children whom they have brought into the world and are bringing up.
Let us look at the basic expenditures of a worker. To rent a room is Rp.400,000 – 500,000 per month . Then groceries will come to Rp. 900.000 (cooking oil, chillies, meat, milk, rice, vegetables, drinking water and so on) per month; Rp. 500,000 for school expenses and the costs of their children being looked after back in the kampung; Rp. 100,000 for toiletries and hygeine. More than Rp. 400.000 will be needed for transport and communications. Overtime will be absolutely necessary. And it would be a disaster if the overtime is not paid. And this often happens. All these costs keep increasing. A 30% increase flowing from the increase in fuel prices, and inflation. The government itself knows that the new inflation ahead will reach more 10
Despite all these facts they keep saying that a 50% increase is not rational.
And you can see for the facts above, that there is so liitle available to the worker for expenditures on: education, to go for further education, or for recreation, to buy books, newspapers, see a movie or buy some music, go swimming, go on the hajj (for those who are muslim), let alone to buy some land or a house, or save for old age, especially given that there is no old age pension.
But the government and employers insist that, in accordance with their decent living standard index (KHL), only 5-20% is a rational increase, in accordance with the Presidential Instruction. The workers need at least an 84 component KHL index, not the governments 64 component KHL. The 64 component KHL is a trap aiming to justify: its Cheap Labour Politics.
Amazing, amazing. Workers making around Rp. 2,290,000/month in Jakarta and Rp.600,000 per month in Sukabumi, when members of parliament are on Rp. 30 – 40 million per month, President SBY gets Rp 1.1 billion per year, not counting transport entightlements, “envelope cash”, and project “tribute”. And as well know even the Chief Justice of the Constitutional Court was charging a “tariff” of 500 million rupiah for a favorable decision in just one case. Unbelievable inequality compared to a worker’s wage. So what is it thatis irrational? The profits made by the employers and the income of corrupt officials, not to mention the tax evasion, or the demands of the workers: a 50% increase to the minimum wage; abolish Outsourcing; Social Insurance for the People?! An irony.
Immediate and long-term
The demands for: a 50% (minimum) wage increase; abolition of Outsourcing; Social Insurance for the people, is NECESSARY and must come IMMEDIATELY! But the workers must not close their eyes. There are many obstacles toi the advance of the workers ahead. There other demands that must also be kept in sight: the end of contract labour, the elimination of premanisme (harassment by gangs of thugs), an end to union busting, the removal of soldiers from the industrial areas, airports and ports and the criminal prosecution of police who use violence.
Why? Even with every small victory, the workers enemies, (employers, regime, and security apparatus) will be thinking of how to stop any futher wins, or, even worse, how to strike back and force the workers movement to retreat, surrender and be compliant.
And the struggle cannot just be limited to economic demands. There is no chance of a the real major victory: the broadest de,ocracy and welfare for the workers and the whole people, if we do not have a vision for political struggle. A vision to win power. Because while power is the hands of parties that are the agents of capital, corrupt officials, generals who are human rights violators, and enemoies of the workers, then they will seize back from the workers and the people any small gain we have have won as soon as they can. So therefore always maintain that ideal of build a political instrument of the workers and the people that can be used to win power.
How we struggle
Once more: history has shown us that by uniting, carrying out the mass picketing campaigns (geruduk), sweeping from factory to factory, striking, the self-confidence of the workers was born and has developed. That way there have been victories at the factory, across an region: there has even been defeat of legislation.
First, sweeping and geruduk [mobile mass picket campaigns] the factories must start again. The workers movement must geruduk the big factories so as to increase self-confidence and courage and to increase the numbers and strength. That way the smaller factories will more easily be geruduked.
Second, Students, farmers and the urban poor need to help the workers block the main road, so as to make it harder for the police or preman to be mobilized against the workers.
Third, workers in the electricity need to stop output. So that production is halted.
Fourth, invite all the kampung residents to help the workers. A victory for the workers wil help the kampung dwellers: many workers live in the kampung as well. Getting the kampung residents involved will make it easier for the workers to face the employers and the preman.
Fifth, the movement should be directed to blockading the roads, harbors, airports, and rail lines.
Sixth, and remember this is a National Strike which is a STOPPING OF PRODUCTION on a NATIONAL SCALE. A strike does not mean that some mobilize in an aksi and others keep working. A strike is a stopping of a production, an offensive that imposes losses of profit on the employer and the regime that has remained indifferent to the workers’ demands. If we are not serious in carrying out the strike then we will be faced with: “gains will not be won, suffering will not be avoided”.
Such is our statement and call to the workers and the people.
Long live the People! Long live the workers! Continue the struggle! (A Luta Continua)!
Arena of Struggle, 28 October 2013
Paulus Suryanta Ginting
Peoples Liberation Party.
(Partai Pembebasan Rakyat).