Support Indonesian workers!

Labour Solidarity Appeal – October 18, 2010
SPK-PPBI rally at Sapphir Square Mall in Yogyakarta - October 10, 2010 (PPBI)
SPK-PPBI rally at Sapphir Square Mall in Yogyakarta - October 10, 2010 (PPBI)

The newly-formed union SPK-PPBI (Security Workers Union, aligned with the United Movement of Labour Indonesia) is calling for solidarity from unions and individuals. The SPK was formed out of a labour dispute between security guards working at the Sapphir Square Mall in Yogyakarta who were sacked unilaterally in late August by the outsourcing company, PT Primanusa, contracted by Sapphir management.

The workers, many of whom had been working for Sapphir Square Mall for several years, were given no notice and were owed one and a half months salary as well as the usual Ramadan holiday pay. The workers took independent action shutting down Sapphir Square Mall for two days in late August and on September 2 a meeting was held between the United Movement of Labour Indonesia (PPBI) and the security workers to form a new union, SPK. Since that time the SPK-PPBI has been actively campaigning for PT Primanusa and Sapphir Mall management to meet their obligations to the workers.

The main strategy of the campaign has been for the workers to continue turning up for work to show that the sacking was illegal (no formal notification of the sacking was given), public meetings and protest actions in Yogyakarta and at Sapphir Square Mall. The dispute is also being heard by the industrial relations mediator Dinsosnakertrans Yogyakarta City. The campaign has also been the catalyst for the creation of a new multi-sector united front, Committee of Labour Struggle Yogyakarta, composed of 12 organisations including students’, womens’ and other labour organisations and with approximately 1000 members.

On October 7 and 8 the SPK once again blockaded the front entrance of Sapphir Sqaure Mall, as a result of the pressure of the campaign PT Primanusa has paid the workers the full amount owing. However the campaign has not been completed until Sapphir Mall management meet their obligations and guarantee the continued employment of the workers.

Unions and individuals in Australia can help to pressure management and the labour department in Yogyakarta by sending messages of solidarity and support for the workers. Indonesian workers are suffering numerous problems as a result of the policies of the neoliberal government of Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (SBY).

Currently 60 million of Indonesia’s 97-million strong work force are subsisting in the ‘informal’ sector, these workers have no legal protection and no welfare safety net to fall back on. The SBY governments’ policies of supporting free trade agreements, such as the ASEAN China Free Trade Agreement (ACFTA) will only exacerbate these problems. The Indonesian economy is under-developed, lacking the technology, technical expertise, capital and productive capacity to compete with products from more industrially-developed nations. Thus the logical outcome of the ACFTA will be the further domination of Chinese-manufactured goods in the Indonesian market place. As a result, the number of layoffs has been estimated to reach between 2 million and even up to 7.5 million nationally. In the textile industry alone, which currently only has a 22% share of the Indonesian textile market, 1.2 million workers have already been threatened with layoffs. Furthermore, at the same time as the SBY government formulates policies that will result in further destruction and disintegration of the Indonesian economy they are also making basic survival for Indonesians more difficult.

Most recently the government increased the electricity tariff by 10%. As a basic service any increase in the cost of electricity has a flow on effect onto the price of all commodities, while the cost of living is increasing the government has not announced any plans for increasing the minimum wage of Indonesian workers. Currently the minimum wage in Indonesia varies between AUD$85-$125 per month but even at the higher end is far below a living wage.

The only way these conditions will be changed is if the Indonesian working class and urban poor unite to struggle for their rights. But the organised working class in Indonesia is still very weak and even small struggles take on greater importance. A successful outcome for the SPK-PPBI can inspire other Indonesian workers to form new unions and struggle for their rights. International solidarity can increase pressure on the government and management to meet the workers demands as well as increase the morale of Indonesian workers in struggle.

Below are the demands of the campaign:

1. SBY’s government (as the law makers), Indonesian Minister of Labor, Dinsosnakertrans, Sapphir Square Mall and PT Primanusa (outsourcing company) must be responsible for these problems.

2. Full payment of salaries, employees’ social security, overtime pay etc.

3. Demand salary increase of 100% or decent wages for all workers.

4. Education and health assurance free for Indonesian people.

5. Old age benefit guarantee for all workers in Indonesia.Cancel increase in electricity tariff and rising prices.

Please send messages of support to:

Society of Indonesian Labor Movement
Secretariat, JL. Laksda Adi Sucipto, Kledokan I, Blok D, No. 19A, Catur Tunggal, Depok, Sleman, Yogyakarta.
Phone: 0274-489719/08561169852 (Daniel, secretary PPBI, Yogyakarta). Email:

[By Zoe Kenny, a member of Revolutionary Sosialist Party (RSP) Australia, currently staying in Jogjakarta.]