5 June 2010

'If Working People Want Prosperity They Must Take Power'

Mahardhika News - May 1, 2010

Vivi W -- Commemorating May Day, 5,000 workers from the Workers Challenge Alliance (ABM) held a protest action in Jakarta today against the pro-capitalist administration of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and Vice President Boediono (SBY-Boediono), which have consistently brought suffering to the Indonesian working class.

Carrying a huge billboard reading "The solution for Indonesia: Build national industry, nationalise vital national assets under the people's control, repudiate the foreign debt and fight corruption", the ABM protesters rallied enthusiastically from the Hotel Indonesia traffic circle in Central Jakarta in preparation for a march to the nearby State Palace.

The demonstrators had been gathering in front of the Niko Hotel since 10am. One by one protesters from labour as well as non-labour organisations affiliated with the ABM arrived from other parts of Jakarta and the satellite cities of Bekasi and Tangerang. At 12noon precisely, the demonstrators led by action coordinator Kamal from the Indonesian Transportation Trade Union of Struggle (SBTPI) moved off towards the Hotel Indonesia traffic circle and then on to the State Palace in Central Jakarta.

Throughout the march the thousands of protesters wearing red shirts sung songs of people's struggle and liberation and shouted slogans condemning capitalism and the pro-capitalist administration of SBY-Boediono such as "SBY-Boediono are capitalist lackeys, overthrow them, overthrow the political elite, power to the people, women workers unit and fight for equality and prosperity". The intense heat of sun failed to dampen the demonstrators' enthusiasm.

At intervals during the march speeches were given by the respective organisations, including the Perempuan Mahardhika (Free Women) National Network (JNPM). In a speech, JNPM spokesperson Sharina declared full support for the working class struggle and their readiness to join with the ABM to fight for the liberation of women and the Indonesian people as a whole. Sharina also emphasised the importance of women struggling and organising to fight against capitalism.

Upon arriving at the State Palace, the ABM joined up with the 1992 All Indonesia Trade Union (SBSI 92) and setup a platform to give joint speeches. Speeches were also given by representatives from the Indonesian Student Secretariat (SMI), the SBTPI, the Solidarity Alliance for Labour Struggle (GSPB), the Greater Jakarta Workers Federation of Struggle (FPBJ), the Indonesian Struggle Union (PPI) and the Union for the Politics of the Poor (PPRM).

Although the speeches took up different themes, the common thread of all the presentations was that the roots of the Indonesian working classes' problems at the moment are first and foremost the capitalist system. It is this system that exploits labour and results in the working class living in poverty for their entire life. The second problem is the pro-capitalist administration of SBY-Boediono, all of who's political and economic policies side with the capitalist class. And third, the problem of the political parties that currently sit in the parliament. That if working people want prosperity they must take power, was explicitly conveyed in a speech by Comrade Budi Wardoyo from the PPRM. The action ended at 5pm with a cultural performance at the nearby Horse statue traffic circle.

In addition to the ABM, several other groups also commemorated May Day including around 10,000 protesters from the Social Welfare Action Committee (KAJS), around 2,500 people from the May 1 Movement and 1,000 activists from the People's Struggle Front (FPR).

Unfortunately at this year's May Day there was little unity between the different movements, and even at the State Palace the groups could be seen organising separately. According to Eli Salomo from the ABM, efforts at building unity between other organisations outside of the ABM were attempted well before May Day but the endeavour was largely unsuccessful. "We will continue to try and find a way for the different elements of the movement to unit for a better struggle in the future," said Ilhamsyah, also from the ABM.

Organisations affiliated with the ABM

Indonesian Trade Union (Serikat Buruh Indonesia, SBI), Solidarity Alliance for Labour Struggle (Gabungan Solidaritas Perjuangan Buruh, GSPB), Indonesian Automotive Trade Union (Serikat Pekerja Otomotif Indonesia, SPOI), Indonesian Harbour Transportation Trade Union (Serikat Buruh Transpotasi Pelabuhan Indonesia, SBTPI), Greater Jakarta Workers Federation of Struggle (Federasi Perjuangan Buruh Jabotabek, FPBJ), Greater Jakarta Railway Workers Trade Union (Serikat Pekerja Kereta Api Jabodetabek, SPKAJ), Jakarta International Container Terminal Outsourcing Workers Alliance, (Aliansi Pekerja Outsourcing JITC), Cross-Factory Labour Forum (Forum Buruh Lintas Pabrik, FBLP), 1992 All Indonesia Trade Union (Serikat Buruh Seluruh Indonesia 1992, SBSI 92), Highway Transportation Trade Union (Serikat Pekerja Transpotasi Jalan Raya, SPTJR), Indonesian Trade Union Movement (Gerakan Serikat Buruh Indonesia, GSBI), Jakarta Independent Trade Union Federation (Federasi
Serikat Pekerja Mandiri Jakarta, FSPMJ), SBTBG, Greater Jakarta Trade Union for Struggle (Serikat Buruh Jabotabek Perjuangan, SBJ-P), Indonesian Struggle Union (Persatuan Perjuangan Indonesia, SPI), Union for the Politics of the Poor (Persatuan Politik Rakyat Miskin, PPRM), Free Women (Perempuan Mahardhika), Pemebebasan (Liberation), Indonesian Student Union (Serikat Mahasiswa Indonesia, SMI), Youth Organisations Union of Struggle (Kesatuan Perjuangan Organisasi Pemuda, KPOP), Indonesian Cultural Society Union (Serikat Kebudayaan Masyarakat Indonesia, SeBUMI), Indonesian Youth Front for Struggle (Front Perjuangan Pemuda Indonesia, FPPI), Indonesian Legal Aid Association (Perhimpunan Bantuan Hukum Indonesia, PBHI).

[Translated by James Balowski.]

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