Andri Yunarko, Jakarta – On Monday April 27 the Indonesian People’s United Resistance (PPRI) held a press conference at the offices of the Jakarta Indonesian Legal Aid Foundation (LBH) to declare its position on the commemoration of International Labour Day or May Day.
The PPRI’s membership includes a number of different people’s organisations such as workers, migrant workers, students, artists and the urban poor.
The PPRI spokespeople at the press conference were Ata (Solidarity Alliance for Labour Struggle, GSPB), Sultoni (National Labour Movement Centre, SGBN), Surya Anta (People’s Liberation Party, PPR) and Nisma (Indonesian Migrant Workers Trade Union, SBMI).
In its statement the PPRI criticised the approach of establishing a political party that involves the political elite, including the planned declaration of a new political party by the Indonesian Labour Movement (GBI). Although the PPRI agrees with the need for the ordinary people to have their own political party, it must fulfill three conditions.
First, in building such a political party it is not enough to just announce it then consolidate it among the trade union elite only, instead it must involve all trade union members.
Second, such a political party cannot just be just for workers but must be for all oppressed people such as fisherpeople, farmers, the urban poor and students.
And third, such a political party must be free from cooptation and the interests of the political elite who serve the interests of capital. If a labour party is coopted by the interests of the political elite, then the party will only be calling itself a workers party, but not fighting for workers’ interests, only the interests of the elite and capital.
“A new party does not [necessarily] mean it’s an alternative [political party], like the KSPI [Confederation of Indonesian Trade Unions] that wants to build a political party but still maintains a close relationship with the KMP (former New Order general Prabowo Subianto’s Red and White parliamentary coalition – Ed) elite”, said Surya, who is also the spokesperson for the PPR, referring to the many new political parties that have emerged in the lead up to elections but are established by elite groups with capital.
Based on the above, the PPRI is critical of and opposes the position taken by labour organisations that are in fact collaborating with the political elite. There will be no improvement whatsoever, and it could even jeopardise ordinary people’s future, if such a political party collaborates with the political elite in support of interests that are far removed from those of the people.
Those elements of the trade union leadership that are affiliated with the GBI have a track record of allying themselves with the political elite. They include KSPI president Said Iqbal who encouraged KSPI members to support Prabowo during the July presidential election, and Confederation of Indonesian Workers’ Union (KSPSI) president Andi Ghani Nena Wea (KSPI) and Confederation of Prosperity Labour Unions (KSBSI) president Mudhofir (KSBSI) who supported President Joko Widodo in the elections last year.
The PPRI believes that building such a political party must be done in the framework of abolishing the oppression of the ordinary people.
This includes the oppression of workers through outsourcing and contract labour systems, low wages, dismissals and the muzzling of trade unions. The oppression of migrant workers such as Nuraeni who was tortured in Kuwait and whose case has been ignored by the state. The oppression of farmers, such as the seizure of agricultural lands in Ramunia (North Sumatra), Rembang (Central Java) and in many other parts of the country along with land evictions without providing decent alternative housing.
Government policies to cut subsidies for the people are also impacting on the soaring price of basic goods, education and healthcare. The people’s suffering is also aggravated by restrictions on democracy such as state violence against so-called ‘street thugs’ and limits on the freedom of opinion and expression in both the real world as well as the internet through draconian laws.
For the PPRI therefore, the urgent task at the moment is a program to improve people’s lives, both in terms of welfare as well as democratic freedoms. This program will be proclaimed at May Day this year with a call for workers and the people to build their own political party without the political elite, for the broadest possible democracy and the redistribution of national wealth for the welfare of all.
[Translated by James Balowski for the Indoleft News Service. The original title of the report was PPRI: Bangun Partai Buruh Tanpa Kooptasi Elit.]