By Max Lane
Between May 14 and 16, delegates from militant worker committees from several cities around Indonesia met in Bandung and voted to form a new national workers' organisation, the Indonesian National Front for Labour Struggles (FNPBI).
Present at the congress were delegates from the Workers Committee for Reform Action (KOBAR) based in and around Jakarta, Indonesian Workers Solidarity from Bandung, Semarang Workers Association, Surakarta Centre for Labour Struggles from Solo, Surabaya Centre for Labour Struggles, North Sumatra Workers Council and Bitung Centre for Labour Struggles from North Sulawesi.
The FNPBI will be organised as a national confederation of local organisations and will have its central office in Jakarta. Membership will be open to any organisation that agrees with its program.
Jailed labour leader Dita Sari was elected general chairperson. KOBAR leader Ilham Syah was elected general secretary.
The FNPBI adopted the following demands for its national campaigns: 100% wage rise, lowering of prices, end all sackings, a 32-hour week with no loss in pay, an end to contract labour, freedom of organisation, heavy penalties for offending employers, freedom for Dita Sari and all political prisoners, abolish the political role of the armed forces, end violence in politics, establish a transitional government, free and fair elections organised by a transitional government, end violence and oppression in Aceh and a referendum for the Maubere people of East Timor.
The FNPBI program calls for workers to be in the forefront of the struggle for democracy and oppose the oppression of any other sectors of society. The program envisages the FNPBI playing a leading role in organising national actions and establishing national alliances with other struggle organisations.
In a message to the congress, Dita Sari urged workers to forge an organisation that would not only defend their immediate interests but also help workers take up their political responsibilities. "A progressive political consciousness in the working class will bring the understanding that real welfare for workers can come only from political struggle", she said.
The FNPBI plans to hold a public launch event in June, after the Indonesian elections. A representative of the FNPBI will make a speaking tour of Australia in August, organised by Action in Solidarity with Indonesia and East Timor.