29 March 2009

Solidarity Appeal: Unite Against Capitalism and the Elite Elections

Solidarity greetings,

The current global capitalist crisis is already impacting upon the welfare of the working class in Indonesia. Earlier this month, Indonesian Employers Association (Apindo) said the economic downturn had already forced more than 237,000 people out of work, addingthat this does not reflect the actual number of layoffs as it fails to include temporary or contract workers. Many dismissals are also not being officially reported.

Thousands of other workers are facing reduced working hours or have to accept less than the minimum wage. Large numbers of workers are also loosing their jobs to outsourcing while others are being forced to have their status changed to contactworkers, meaning they can be dismissed arbitrarily without severance pay.

In addition to this, hundreds of thousands of migrant workers are also likely to loose their jobs, with an estimated 100,000 Indonesian laborers in Malaysia expected to be repatriated this year.

And this is expected to worsen. On March 17economists and alumni from the National Resilience Institute (Lemhannas) warned that around 1.5 million Indonesian workers would lose their jobs this year, bringing the country's official open unemploymentrate to around 10.4 million.

In the midst of the inability of the ‘yellow’ or pro-government trade unions to respond to these problems, the Solidarity Alliance for Labour Struggle (GSPB) and the Politics for the Poor-Indonesian National Front for Labour Struggle (FNPBI-PRM), are endeavoring to undertake consciousness building work and the mass organisation of workers in the Jakarta satellite city of Bekasi and surrounding areas.

This work has primarily been in the form ofestablishing labour struggle coordination posts in poor residential areas where workers live. The coordination posts are used to distribute leaflets, hold discussions and meetings, and for film showings and education seminars. To date, nine such labour struggle coordination posts have been established in Bekasi, and this continues to expand.
In addition to having to confront the global financial crisis, Indonesian workers are also faced with the legislative elections on April 9, followed by the election for president and vice-president on June 9.
For Indonesia’s poor and working class, these elections can provide little hope for change – but rather more of the pro-capitalist and neoliberal policies that have been pursued by the parties elected in 2004 elections and are leading to the growing impoverishment of millions or ordinary Indonesians. Not one of the political parties participating in the elections has a track record of fighting for the interest of the working class andthe poor. On the contrary, many of these parties are remnants of Suharto’s New Order regime or have been formed by former New Order generals, human rights violators, corrupt government officials or businesstycoons.

It is because of this therefore, that on April 5 the GSPB along with a number of other organisations active in the people’s movement such as the women’s organisation Perempuan Mahardhika, the Union for thePolitics of the Poor (PPRM), the Jakarta Poor People’s Union (PRMJ), the Politics for the Poor- National Student League for Democracy (LMND-PRM) and the Indonesian Buskers Union (SPI), will be holdinga joint mass rally in Jakarta as part of this consciousness building work under the theme “Let’s Unite Against Capitalism, Let’s Unite Against the Elite Elections”. In addition to the meeting in Jakarta, similar mass meetings will also be held inother Indonesian cities.

The mass rally in Jakarta is planned to involve some 500 people and will be held at an indoor venue. The event will involve presentation by labour movement leaders – both those involved in initiating therally plus other invited speakers. The rally will also include a people’s poetry reading and a choir singing of songs of struggle.

The mass meeting is intended as part of preparations in the lead up to massive demonstrations on May Day this year.

In order to organise the event, we will need funds of some 20 million rupiah, or around US$2000. Unfortunately, efforts so far to raise funds from our own members have only be sufficient to cover theneeds of the labour coordination posts that have already been established and fall far short of what will be needed for the cost of hiring an indoor venue or the transportation costs of participants.There will also be additional expenditures such as light refreshments and the cost of publicising the event.

We are writing to you to appeal for financial assistance to support this event. If you or your organisation is able to make a donation please send it to:

Account Holder: Jaringan Nasional PerempuanMahardhikaAccount Number: 0534-01-0037-73-50-6Swift code: BRINIDJA

For further information about FNPBI-PRM and on preparations for the mass rally, please feel free to contact us by email at fnpbi.prm@gmail.com or visit our website at www.fnpbi-prm.blogspot.com.

In solidarity,
Budi Wardoyo,
Coordinator FNPBI-PRM

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