Workers Challenge Alliance protests against new forms of colonialism

Media Indonesia – September 10, 2006
Workers Challenge Alliance rally Central Jakarta business district (adisuara)
Workers Challenge Alliance rally Central Jakarta business district (adisuara)

Jakarta – On September 10 the Workers Challenge Alliance (ABM) held a demonstration at the State Palace in Jakarta against new forms of colonialism and demanded that the government set a standard national wage.

The action, which had been going on since 1pm, involved more than 100 people from a number of labour organisations affiliated with the ABM including the Indonesian Trade Union Action Committee (KASBI), the Indonesian Labor Union Confederation (GASPERMINDO), the Indonesian Automotive Trade Union (SPOI) and the Indonesian National Front for Labour Struggle (FNPBI).

The protesters, the majority of whom wore red ABM T-shirts, started the action at the Hotel Indonesia roundabout before marching to the State Palace where they gave speeches opposing a number of government policies.

They said that to date, government’s national development program has been marked with a dependency on foreign debt that has resulted in policies such as cutting subsidies to electricity, fuel and water and paying cheap wages to workers that the ABM said was a means to enrich the capitalists rather than ordinary people.

The policy of maintaining low wages is a method borrowed from the New Order regime of former President Suharto to attract foreign investment, as if Indonesian workers will voluntarily accept any wage at all as long as they have work.

Establishing a suitable national wage, according to the ABM, means setting workers’ wages so that they are no long just enough for workers to sustain themselves and return to work like machines but a national wage that will allow the working class to live like human beings.

The ABM believes that the roots of the poverty of the working class and the Indonesian people as a whole are a consequence of the economic system being pursued by the central government that does not side with the working class.

Because of this therefore, the ABM is calling on the working class and all Indonesian people to struggle together to form a new government that has the courage to cancel the foreign debt and nationalise Indonesia’s natural resources and vital assets.

“We want the working class to unite to resist this new form of colonialism that oppresses the people”, said one of the demonstrators. (Ant/OL-06)

[Translated by James Balowski.]