Labour Party to prioritise elections, parliamentary struggle over street protests

CNN Indonesia – October 5, 2021
4th Labour Party congress at the Grand Cempaka Hotel in Jakarta – October 5, 2021 (Tribune)

Jakarta – Newly elected Labour Party General Chairperson Said Iqbal says that the party was established based on the wishes of several labour organisations to begin struggling in parliament and not in the streets as they have been doing up until now.

This was conveyed by Said after he was officially elected as the party's general chairperson at the 4th Labour Party congress which was held at the Grand Cempaka Hotel in Jakarta on October 4-5.

"We want to carry out a parliamentary struggle, no longer just in the streets, in the streets but in accordance with the constitution, but we want to struggle in parliament", Said told journalists on Tuesday October 5.

Furthermore, he said, the establishment of the Labour Party was triggered by the enactment of the Omnibus Law on Job Creation. The Labour Party, said Said, primarily wants to restore the previous restrictions on outsourcing.

Under the 2003 Labour Law, outsourcing was restricted to work outside of primary activities or which did not have a relationship with the production process with the exception of supporting activities. Under the Omnibus Law meanwhile, the government no longer restricts outsourcing which is allowed for all labour sectors.

Said, who is the president of the Confederation of Indonesian Trade Unions (KSPI), said he was surprised that the Indonesian government abolished the restrictions on outsourcing. According to Said, the government has moved beyond the labour system in the United States which is seen as the most pro-capitalist country.

"Contract workers are [reemployed] again and again, the regency sectoral minimum wage has been abolished, the municipal minimum wage may apply, or may not, the value of [annual wage] increases is small, [and is based on] inflation or economic growth", said Said in highlighting the problems with the Job Creation Law.

Said emphasised that the Labour Party will offer a better kind of relationship between industry and labour. As the head of a labour organisation, he claims to have travelled around several countries and observed the working conditions in these countries.

In industrialised countries, he said, the presence of labour parties is a certainty so he is surprised as to why up until now a labour party has not existed in Indonesia.

"The Labour Party is offering [better] Industrial relations, the Omnibus Law was one of the reasons for the birth of the Labour Party. This is our offer", he said. (thr/ain)

10 million constituents

Said said that he is confident that the party now has sufficient strength to contest the 2024 legislative and presidential elections. Said is sure of this because the Labour Party now has the support of 11 civil society organisations, primarily from the working class with around 10 million constituents.

"The basis of our constituency is clear, right, the working class including farmers, our constituent base is almost 10 million, right", Said told journalists on Tuesday.

Said said that the Labour Party has been declared in a total of 34 provinces, 409 regencies and municipalities and around 1,500 sub-districts. With these numbers the party has already fulfilled the 40 administrative requirements to submit a registration with the Ministry of Justice and Human Rights (Kemenkumham) in 1-2 weeks time.

Currently, said Said, aside from meeting the requirements for a party basis in the region, they are in the process of arranging a certificate of registration for the party as one of the other requirements with the Kemenkumham.

"In around one or two weeks, we will report to the Kemenkumham and hopefully the Kemenkumham will be able to issue a [notification] of the new management structure", said Said.

He is convinced that the Labour Party has been reborn with different kind of strength saying the party not only has the support of the working class but also support from other civil society elements, such as farmers, fisherpeople, honorary teachers and women's movement organisations.

He does not want the party to just be based on the power of workers. He wants to learn from the failures of the old labour party in earlier elections, particularly in 2004 and 2009, when it failed to gain any seats at the national level or the House of Representatives (DPR).

"This is what differentiates the new Labor Party from the old one. The old one was only based on one trade union confederation, namely the SBSI [All Indonesia Trade Union] which at the time was led by Bang [Brother] Muchtar [Pakpahan]", he said. (thr/wis)

[Slightly abridged translation by James Balowski based on two articles by CNN Indonesia on October 5. The original title of the lead article was "Said Partai Buruh: Berjuang di Parlemen, Tak Sekadar di Jalan".]