Workers are always the first victims of crises. Indonesia’s workers have seen this time and again, and in 2023, with inflation and the rising cost of living, their working conditions have worsened. There is little access to health care and social security, salaries are already too low to pay rent and take care of children or parents, and women are often fired when pregnant. These working conditions are in sharp contrast with the Indonesian state officials salaries, that allow for a luxurious lifestyle.
Indonesia has a big work intensive industrial sector, manufacturing mostly textile and clothing, footwear, furniture and child toys, all for export to Europe and the US. Due to decreasing demand because of the global economic crisis, the Indonesian government issued a regulation that allows companies in these sectors to cut their workers’ salaries with 25%.
Simultaneously the government passed a bill to increase international investment in the Indonesian economy, even though the past years have shown that more investment does not in any way mean more jobs or better working conditions.
“Workers Say No to Salary Cut! Cut State Officials Salary!”
To protest these new regulations and call for a redistribution of wealth, Organisasi Kaum Muda Sosialis/ OKMS mobilised throughout the whole country for a mass action on the 1th of May 2023. OKMS is a socialist youth organization that organises activities to spread socialist ideas, strengthen the ideological understandings of socialism of their members, organised young people and values solidarity building for the working class and the oppressed. Once a month, they come together for activities such as discussions about contemporary or theoretical issues, or spreading pamphlets on campuses and factories.
On the 1th of May 2023, they teamed up with unions, students and various adovocacy groups, and organised protests in Jakarta, Yogyakarta, Semarang and Makassar, accompanied by discussions and speeches. Together with the Gerakan Buruh Bersama Rakyat (GEBRAK – Labour and Peoples Movement), and other socialist organisations, the OKMS spread a pamphlet stating their demands and calling for continuing protests to take down the political and economic elites.
Other than on-the-ground actions, a national online discussions was held, inviting historians specialized in Indonesia’s history and several activists from various organizations to discuss the state of Indonesian politics and the best way to go forward.
Het Actiefonds is proud to support the 1th of May protests in Indonesia and worldwide, and will continue to support all action for workers rights and against capitalist exploitation !
Read and learn more about the Indonesian Socialist Youth Organisation and the economic situation in Indonesia on the Facebook page of OMKS, their Tiktok, and Instagram. Watch footage of the protest here, here and here.