Workers and people unite against capitalism and imperialism on May Day

Joint Labour Secretariat – May 2, 2012
 May Day Yogyakarta - May 1, 2016 (KPO Yogya)
May Day Yogyakarta - May 1, 2016 (KPO Yogya)

Today, May 1, coinciding with the commemoration of International Labour Day, the Greater Jakarta Joint Labour Secretariat (Sekber Buruh) again took to the streets. This was done as a protest and as our responsibility to convince the majority of people that this beloved country is still living in misery. The government may well say that there is economic growth, that there has been a growth in the middle-class and so on, but the reality, the facts and data depict the opposite.

Some 12.5% of the population have a monthly income of around 233,740 rupiah (US$25) and only 1.5% have an income of above 3 million rupiah a month. Yet according to our calculations, at the very least, a worker’s minimum wage should be around this figure. The open rate of unemployment is also extremely high, around 7.7 million people out of a work force of 117.37 million, where 5.3 million are between the ages of 15-29 years. And of this total (109.67 million), one-third (34.59 million) are people who work less than 35 hours a week.

Over the last few years the figures above have not improved, and if anything have worsened, with the living conditions of ordinary people becoming increasingly destitute. The medicine of liberalisation that is touted as the way to bring prosperity to the people has clearly failed. Since the 16 century, Indonesia has been the target of exploitation by European countries, where its natural wealth has been exploited and its workers sucked dry for the advancement and splendor of the “West”. This is why, at the moment, the “West” has what it requires (capital) to build its own countries. Indonesia meanwhile, after gaining “independence” from the West (Dutch colonialism), had no industries whatsoever that were capable of building on its capital. Yet in order to develop capital, a high level of national productivity is required, and therefore industrialisation is needed. In Indonesia, out the 100 million or so people in the workforce, around 99.5% work in small-scale enterprises with less than 500 employees. This illustrates how it is impossible to develop the productive economy touted by the government, where a small-scale economy cannot possibly increase its capital and overtake its backwardness.

The government can indeed borrow from international financial institutions such as the IMF, the World Bank or the ADB to obtain capital. But the medicine accepted by the Indonesia in order to borrow from these institutions, is instead a poison, because these institutions, which are sponsored by the imperialist countries, have never sincerely tried to assist Indonesia in overcoming its economic backwardness, but rather the opposite, and the loans they provide are intended to further deepen the exploitation of Indonesia’s resources. Indonesia’s economy has been forced to further open up to foreign capital, its natural wealth exploited, and its workforce forced to submit to the wishes of capital though labour systems that are flexible, low paid and obedient. Little by little, subsidies for the ordinary people have to be reduced in order not to disrupt the payment of the foreign debt and so forth. In short the economy must operate as openly as possible in accordance with the demands of the market and cannot be restricted in any way whatsoever. Politically meanwhile, the state must play a greater role in guaranteeing the security of capital and the people’s freedoms regulated so that they do not upset profits.

It is very clear what the government wants from us. The government only wants to serve the rich with help from “slaves” such as us, so that the wheels of the economy continue to turn for the wealthy, while our lives become increasingly difficult. When fuel subsidies are cut, it is us who bear the consequences, while the rich, who exploit us, can easily buy unsubsidized fuel. The cost of education up to university level is extremely high for us so that our children are unable to attend school, while the rich, who exploit us, can easily pay the money for school fees. Hospital fees are expensive, so that we are unable to obtain treatment, while the rich, who exploit us, can easily pay hospital fees. Moreover what is even more painful, is that no concern is paid to clinic facilities, medical staff, medicines and the like, which should be allocated for the needs of the ordinary people, so we often hear about poor patients, particularly in remote areas, who die due to a lack of medical care, while the rich, who exploit us, can easily pay for treatment in the best hospitals anywhere in the world.

We can also see that the goods that the government produces for the nation are unnecessary. We don’t need more new cars that only waste fuel reserves and clog the roads. What we need is modern and affordable mass public transport, so that we don’t have to put our lives on the line going to and from work because we have to ride motorcycles or hang off the side of overcrowded and unsafe trains. Yes, we have learnt and understand that the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) only “performs” for the benefit of a handful of people. This is at the very least indicated by the composition of bank accounts, where 50% of third party funds held in banks are owned by less than 1% of the people, and the remaining 50% held by the rest of society. In short, the state budget that the government derives from a GDP of 1,300 billion rupiah that is used to fund development, that the government claims is being burdened by subsidising the people, must be increased, because aside from the ratio still being far too small (only 20%), compared with the United States (35%) or France (56%), the government must also create prosperity for us, so that there is equality, but increasing taxes on the rich.

We are now aware that that the economy cannon be run according to a liberal planning that serves the market and submits to capital. This kind of economy cannot bring us prosperity, cannot increase our productivity, and cannot build a strong national industry. The economy must be planned so that can be directed towards policies that benefit the majority of the people, and in order that it is directed properly, democracy for the people must be opened up as broadly as possible. The ordinary people must be given an opportunity to determine the direction of the economy. For that, do not muzzle the people’s voices with regulations that limit their freedom.

Based upon the above, we make the following demands:

1. We demand employment guarantees; contract labour systems and outsourcing will only make it easier for us to be dismissed, exploited and for our rights to be taken away.

2. We reject the politics of low wages and demand the repeal of Department of Labour and Transmigration Law Number 17/2005 on the 46 components of a reasonable living cost index that are inadequate to guarantee a reasonable standard of living.

3. We reject cuts to fuel subsidies because fuel price increases will only benefit foreign oil companies, while for us, the workers and the ordinary people, fuel price increases will only make the people’s lives more miserable.

4. We reject and will fight against all forms of appropriation of the people’s land by the state and corporations, because stealing our farmers’ land means pushing farmers into a precipice of death.

5. We demand free education; the national education system cannot be liberalised, education is a basic right for all people to advance their productivity and civilisation and liberate themselves from the oppression of the capitalists. Education must be free, scientific and have a populist vision.

6. On the question of democracy, we demand the repeal of all anti-democratic legislation, namely the state intelligence law and the law on social conflicts, as well as the national security law that is currently being deliberated.

In addition to this, we call on all elements of the people’s movement to agitate for movement unity for the sake of creating an alternative political force that is anti-capitalist and anti-imperialist.

  • Fight capitalism and imperialism
  • Workers power, workers prosperity

Jakarta, 30 April 2012

Sekber Public Relations Presidium:

1. Ilhamsyah: 081219235552
2. Sultoni: 087878725873/
3. John: 081388462534/
4. Surya: 0815-743-043-91/
5. Adhi W: 081389651948/

Sekber Buruh Jabodetabek

Indonesian Trade Union Congress Alliance (KASBI), Indonesian Transportation Trade Union of Struggle (SBTPI), Greater Jakarta Workers Federation of Struggle (FPBJ), Indonesian Trade Union Jakarta (SBIJ), United Indonesian Labour Movement (PPBI), Indonesian Automotive Trade Union Federation (FSPOI), Buana Group Textile Trade Union (SPTBG), Indonesian Trade Union Movement (Gesburi), PT Toppan Communication and Information Forum (FKI PT Topan), Suzuki Indonesian Metal Trade Workers Federation (FSPMI Suzuki), Indonesian Independent Trade Union (SBMI), Jakarta Front (Front Jak), Confederation of Prosperity Labor Unions Jakarta (KSBSI Jakarta), Confederation of Prosperity Labor Unions Tangerang (KSBSI Tangerang), Alliance of Independent Journalists (AJI), Greater Jakarta Railway Workers Trade Union (SPKAJ), Jakarta International Container Terminal Head Truck Operator Workers Forum (FP OHT JICT), Gasbindo Independent Trade Union (SBM Gasbindo), Jakarta International Container Terminal Trade Union (SP JICT), Indonesian Market Traders Association (IKAPPI), Indonesian Independent Union (SMI), Student Struggle Center for National Liberation (PEMBEBASAN), Indonesian Association of Catholic Students (PMKRI), Urban Students Network (JMK), Indonesian Student League for Democracy (LMND), Jakarta Student Consortium (KMJ), Youth Organisations Union of Struggle (KPOP), Indonesian Cultural Society Union (SEBUMI), Indonesian Youth Front for Struggle (FPPI), People in Movement (Rakber), Movement Indonesia (PI), Free Women National Committee (KNPM), Agrarian Reform Consortium (KPA), Jakarta Legal Aid Foundation (LBH Jakarta), United Indonesian Struggle (PPI), People’s Liberation Party (PPR), Working People’s Association-Organisational Saviours Committee (KPO-PRP).

[Translated by James Balowski for the Indoleft News Service.]