East Java protesters say electricity hike will only burden people further

Antara News – August 7, 2010
Protest against electricity rate hike and militarism (Aktual)
Protest against electricity rate hike and militarism (Aktual)

Surabaya – As many as 180 students, workers and urban poor activists from 12 organisations in the East Java cities of Surabaya, Mojokerto and Madiun held a protest action in Surabaya on Saturday August 7 opposing the recent increase in basic electricity rates (TDL).

During the action, which was held in front of the Negara Grahadi Building on Jl. Gubernur Suryo, Surabaya, activists from the Indonesian Labour Movement Union (PPBI), the Indonesian Cultural Society Union (SeBUMI), the Political Union of the Poor (PPRM), the Student Sovereignty Union for the People (SKMR), the Indonesian Student Union (SMI) and other organisations also demanded that the government bring down the price of basic goods, rice and other staples (sembako).

The protesters also brought posters and banners with demands such as “Reject the TDL hike” and “Government... don’t increase electricity prices”.

In addition to giving speeches and shouting slogans against the electricity price hikes along with demands to reduce basic commodity prices, the activists also held a theatrical action depicting three people being further impoverished by the electricity price hikes.

“We ask and demand that the government cancel the TDL increase, because high TDL are already strangling the Indonesian people”, said action coordinator Andri Setiawan. Because of this therefore, similar actions are also being held in other cities such as Medan (North Sumatra), Lampung (South Sumatra), Jakarta, Yogyakarta (Central Java), Semarang (Central Java), Bali and Mataram (Lombok).

“We demand that the TDL increase be canceled and sembako prices brought down, because the ordinary people are already suffering deeply. If these demands are not met, we will continue to hold actions and they will get even larger again”, said Setiawan.

According to Setiawan, the electricity rate hike has also increased production costs, so employers will sacrifice the ordinary people because they will not want to suffer financial losses, so dismissals will occur everywhere, the price of sembako will continue to rise and holiday bonuses will not be paid.

“The government’s reasons for increasing TDL in order to save energy makes no sense, because they have sold off the energy sector to the private sector. That is the error that must be evaluated instead of burdening the people”, he said.

The action resulted in traffic in the heart of Surabaya city coming to a stand still because although protesters only used the sidewalk and not the road, the action caused many drivers to slow down to watch the demonstration.

“The TDL hikes will trigger an increase in inflation as a result of products in the form or raw materials as well as finished good experiencing price increase compared with earlier prices. Not to mention the increasingly tight competition with the implementation of the ASEAN China Free Trade Area Agreement”, said Setiawan.

[Translated by James Balowski.]