14 July 2010

Workers Say Electricity Hike Will Result in Wage Cuts, More Dismissals

Okezone - July 12, 2010

Rheza Andhika Pamungkas, Jakarta -- Around 80 workers from the Indonesian Labour Movement Union (PPBI) held a demonstration today demanding the cancellation of basic electricity rate (TDL) hikes that came into effect on July 1.

"Although the TDL for people categorised as poor will not rise, poor people will still be hit by the impact of these TDL hikes", said PPBI chairperson Ata B. Udi in a speech at the Department of Labour and Transmigration in Jakarta on Monday July 12.

According to Udi, the electricity rate increase will result in cuts to employees' wages and numbers. Udi said that some 15,000 workers have already been hit by dismissals because the companies where they work have had to increase efficiency.

"In addition to this, the TDL hike will also impact on other prices, such as basic commodities, building materials, as well as transportation fares such as electric trains", added Udi.

In addition to the Labour Department, the protests also plan to hold a demonstration at the Hotel Indonesia traffic circles and the State Palace. "We will be conveying the same demands. If they are not heeded, we promise to bring more demonstrators in coming days", threatened Udi. (ton)

[Translated by James Balowski.]

5 July 2010

The Politics of the Poor – Socialism in Indonesia

Twelve years after one of the bloodiest military regimes worldwide ended, the radical left still faces a hard struggle in Indonesia. An interview with Indonesian activist Paulus Suryanta Ginting.
I’m a spokesperson for an organisation called Komite Politik Rakyat Miskin – Partai Rakyat Demokratik (Political Committee of the Poor – Democratic People’s Party, KPRM-PRD) Besides work for my organization I have also been active in workers movements in Semarang, Central Java and Sidoarjo, East Java, and in student movements in Jakarta, on Java. In 2004 I was still a member of PRD and I was a member of the board. Later, in 2006, I became the general secretary of the National Student League for Democracy. I was active in the student movement until this year.
Can you tell us something about the daily issues facing people in Indonesia?
A large problem is unemployment – above thirty per cent. Especially workers from the textile industry have been losing their jobs. After 1998 many textile factories in Bandung, Java, went bankrupt because they couldn’t pay for raw materials, imported for example from China, because the Indonesian Rupiah sharply declined in value. After 1998, the import axes on textile from China were abolished or sharply lowered – many Indonesian producers couldn’t compete and went out of business. The Asia China Free Trade Agreement means that many products from China can be imported to Indonesia under no or very low import taxes – and just like with textile, the Indonesian industry has trouble competing with this. Education and health care are also problems form many people who can hardly afford them.
1998 is the year Suharto’s regime ended but why was this also such an economic turning point?
Earlier, Suharto had already made huge debts to the International Monetary Fund (IMF). At the end of the nineties, Asia was hit by an economic crisis, caused for a large part by economic speculation. The IMF lend money to Indonesia on the condition it would implement so-called Structural Adjustment Programs. The agreement for these programs was signed by Suharto but these SAP’s were implemented by his successor, Bacharuddin Jusuf Habibie. Habibie also entered into new agreements with the IMF, just like Gus Dur, Megawati Soekarnoputri and the presidents after them, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono. These programs meant a drastic liberalization of the Indonesian economy. The Worldbank also made liberalization and deregularization of the economy a precondition for aid. During the Suharto regime, the so-called New Order, Indonesia was quite popular among foreign investors. But Suharto and his cronies had controlled large parts of the economy. Now, everything had to be privatized and government subsidies on health care, education, public transport and food were slashed. This meant that many people had to pay more for these daily needs after the fall of Suharto and the cost of living is rising. When I was studying in Yogyakarta at the turn of the century, a good meal would cost less than 2000 rupiah – now, it would cost you over 4500.

3 July 2010

Papua solidarity protest in Yogyakarta and Jakarta calls for end to military operations

Papuans in Yogyakarta demand end to military operations in Puncak Jaya

KRjogja.com - June 21, 2010

Yogyakarta -- Scores of Papuans from the group Solidarity for Papua (SUP) held a protest action at the Yogyakarta monument in the Central Java city of Yogyakarta on Monday June 21. The demonstrators, most of whom were students, were demanding the lifting of the military operational zone (DOM) status that has been in effect in the Puncak Jaya regency of Papua.

Action coordinator Leksi Degei said that what has been taking place in the Tingginambut district of Puncak Jaya up until now has not been reported by the media. Yet the area has been under the control of the Indonesian military (TNI) and the police (Polri) since June 7.

"We don't know why there was an agreement between the Puncak Jaya II regional government, the Trikora XVII regional military commander and the Papua police on the DOM status in Puncak Jaya. There was no publication in the media there, yet gross human rights violations have already taken place", he explained during a break in the action.

Degei added that they are calling on all groups to open their eyes to what is occurring in Puncak Jaya, where a scorched earth policy is being applied, forcing all Puncak Jaya residents to immediately evacuate the area by June 28 at the latest. It is as if Puncak Jaya residents are being expelled from the land of their own birth.

"All residential areas are being swept by the TNI, many horrible killings have occurred. We are asking for an end to this scorched earth policy and the immediate lifting of the DOM status there", he added.

The demonstrators gave the government a deadline of Saturday June 26 to lift the DOM status. If their demands are not met, they will ask for an authority status to be declared in Papua.

"The SBY [President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono] government is most responsible for this situation. This action is only an initial notification. Following this, we will hold a much larger national action in Jakarta", said Degei.

During the action, the protesters marched on foot from the Yogyakarta monument to the Yogyakarta central post office. After protesting for about an hour, the demonstrators disbanded under the close supervision of the Yogyakarta district police tactical police unit. (Dhi)