Workers' vote pursued ahead of elections, then they're abandoned says union leader

CNN Indonesia – May 3, 2023
Indonesian Trade Union Alliance (KASBI) rally in Jakarta – Undated (Antara)

Jakarta – Indonesian Trade Union Congress Alliance Confederation (KASBI) General Chairperson Nining Elitos has emphasised that her organisation will not take part in openly supporting any particular figure in the 2024 presidential electoral contest.

Elitos said that this is because workers' votes are only pursued in the lead up to elections. After this however, workers are abandoned and the winner even adopts policies that make things more difficult for them.

"In the lead up to each election workers are pursued just for their vote after which they're forgotten [and the winners] even issue policies and regulations that make workers [lives] more difficult and suffer more", said Elitos when contacted on Wednesday May 3.

Her statement was also in response to a declaration by the Confederation of the All-Indonesian Workers Union (KSPSI) of open support for ruling Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) presidential candidate Ganjar Pranowo (GP) in the 2024 elections.

Elitos emphasised that KASBI will not follow in the footsteps of the KSPSI or other trade unions that openly support a presidential candidate.

Elitos for example, criticised the campaign pledges made by President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo before he was elected. At the time, she said, Widodo pledged to bring prosperity to workers.

"But the reality was [the government] issued Government Regulation Number 78/2015 on wages, issued a government regulation on apprenticeships in 2016 and issued the Omnibus Law on Job Creation", she said.

Elitos said that democratic space is becoming narrower. The fact is that what has happened, according to Elitos, is that the ordinary people who opposed the Omnibus Law were criminalised and even lost their lives.

Elitos also criticised the majority of political parties in the parliament that supported the enactment of the Job Creation Law. She is also convinced that the public has become more astute in determining their vote.

"Although there are claims that trade unions will support GP as an official from a party that supported the Omnibus Law, I trust that the public is more astute and surely will not vote for him", she said.

Earlier during a May Day action on Monday May 1, KSPSI President Andi Gani Nena Wea announced that his organisation will go all out to support Pranowo.

"Once again we'll go all out supporting Ganjar, our reasons are very strong, because Pak [Mr] Ganjar is a leader in the regions who at that time led Central Java, as he does to this day, who is prepared to meet with workers", said Wea. (thr/ain)

[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was "KASBI: Jelang Pemilu Buruh Hanya Dikejar Suaranya, Habis Itu Dilupakan". The original article incorrectly stated in the fourth and fifth paragraphs that the Labour Party affiliated Confederation of Indonesian Trade Unions (KSPI) had declared its support for Pranowo.]