Indonesia’s labour movement emerged weak and disorganised after more than 30 years under authoritarian rule. Yet in the two decades since the country’s transition to democracy, it has emerged as a vibrant, even influential, political actor. While the movement’s rise to success has not been without its challenges, it achieved its goals by adopting a unique combination of political tactics.
As Indonesia erupts in violent protests over the passing of a controversial new jobs law, Professor Michele Ford reflects on the history of Indonesia’s labour movement, exploring how international support, the post-transition political opportunity structure, and unions’ tactical creativity combined to reinvigorate the labour movement, leading to substantial rises in the minimum wage and some policy success.
Professor Michele Ford is Director of the Sydney Southeast Asia Centre. Her research focuses on trade union aid, Southeast Asian labour movements and labour migration. Michele’s work has been supported by a number of Australian Research Council Discovery Project grants related to these and other topics. She has also been involved in extensive consultancy work for the ILO, the international labour movement and the Australian government.
You can follow Michele on Twitter @MicheleSSEAC.
For more information or to browse additional resources, visit the Sydney Southeast Asia Centre's website here.