More than two million workers joined a one-day strike across Indonesia on Wednesday of last week. They demanded an end to low wages and the policy of outsourcing to contract labour.
About 200,000 workers marched in the industrial city of Bekasi, waving flags and chanting “Workers unite! We can’t be defeated!”
The strike is the greatest action by the labour movement since president Suharto crushed resistance in anti-communist purges during the 1960s.
President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s government has opened up the country further to neoliberalism. Some 16 million workers are currently outsourced and denied benefits. Strikers want all workers to be directly employed with a minimum wage and health insurance.
One worker told me it is hard to organise strikes and protests, but she has no choice as the cost of living is so expensive.
The democracy movement that overthrew the dictator Suharto in 1998 has been co-opted into the administration. But the action shows the mass labour movement can create a revolutionary alternative.