Indonesian solidarity campaign launched


Indonesian solidarity campaign launched

By James Balowski

Criminal proceedings are to be brought against seven student and worker activists from the independent trade union PPBI (Indonesian Centre for Labour Struggle) and the country's largest national student organisation, SMID (Student Solidarity for Democracy in Indonesia).

Dita Sari, secretary-general of PPBI, Lukman, also from PPBI, and Kelik, Margiyono, Akbar and Haryo, all from SMID, are accused of provoking and "mobilising the masses" of PT Great River Industries, resulting in a "labour disturbance". They are also charged with "resisting" officials.

Between July 18 and 24, PPBI, supported by SMID, led thousands of workers from PT Great River Industries, a garment factory in Bogor, West Java, in strikes and rallies for better wages and conditions, and the right to organise independently of the Suharto dictatorship's puppet union, the All Indonesia Workers Union (SPSI).

PPBI leaders in Jakarta have called for international support. In a letter to PPBI on July 30, AKSI national coordinator Max Lane said, "In Australia, AKSI will be organising a campaign in defence of the PPBI-SMID workers and students. We hope to form a defence committee of trade unionists, student activists and Indonesian and East Timor solidarity activists for this campaign."

Lane said that the Australian government should suspend all industrial relations cooperation under a memorandum of understanding with the Indonesian government. "This agreement, signed by the Indonesian minister of labour, Abdul Latief, one of the owners of Great River Industries, is the umbrella under which the Australian government is supporting the dictatorship-controlled SPSI. While workers are being beaten, harassed and put on trial for demanding the right to independent unionism, the Australian government should have nothing to do with this agreement", said Lane.

Support for a defence committee for the arrested PPBI-SMID activists has already been offered. "We are particularly pleased with the response from the East Timorese independence movement", Lane said. Jose Gusmao, South-east Asia representative of the National Council for Maubere Resistance (CNRM); Harold Mucho, NSW coordinator of Fretilin; and Gil Scrine, convener of the Australia East Timor Association of NSW, have agreed to join the committee. The PPBI was involved in the formation of the Indonesian People's Solidarity Struggle with the Maubere People (SPRIM), a coalition of Indonesian organisations supporting self-determination for East Timor.