Indonesia Inquiry

Labor Movements in Indonesia (Annotated Bibliography)

March 28, 2016 Annotated Bibliographies Data Research Resources 0

Labor Movements in Indonesia (Annotated Bibliography)

Compiled by: Shannay Baradaran

Directed Individual Study, Spring 2016

Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi

Arnold, Wayne. 2004. “Indonesia, Unions Hit a Roadblock: Contract Labor.” The New York Times (May): 1.

Reports that only six years after being allowed to flourish following the Asian financial crisis, Indonesia’s fledgling labor movement is backfiring on some workers. Example of worker Luluk Setyowati; Result of her work in helping to organize a union at Lengtat Tangerrant Leather outside Jakarta; How Setyowati and others were locked out of their company and lost their jobs as a result of wanting better employee benefits; Role of the International Monetary Fund in the labor rights field; How countries may be competing to reduce worker’s rights; Discussion of experts with opposing views.

Beers, Steve. 2013. “Thinking Globally, Framing Locally: International Discourses and Labor Organizing in Indonesia.” Austrian Journal of South-East Asian Studies (June): 120-139. 

In the final decade of the New Order regime, Indonesian labor activists turned to international organizations as a key ally in the dangerous work of challenging the state-controlled labor regime. As the political context has become more open, international organizations have continued to play an important role in the labor movement. This paper examines the changing role of transnational labor activism in democratic Indonesia. First, the paper describes the emergence of the discourse of global labor rights in response to the challenges of globalization. It then sketches the historical relationship between the Indonesian state, the labor movement, and international activists. Finally, the paper examines an internationally supported union organizing campaign. Drawing upon the literature on discursive framing, the case suggests that while internationally circulating, rights-based discourses remain an important resource for domestic activists, such discourses must be translated and modified for the local political context.

Boswell, Terry, and Dimitris Stevis. 1997. “Globalization and International Labor Organizing.” Work & Occupations (August): 288-308.

Globalization, the rapid increase in the pace of world market and social integration, is producing a ripening global awareness among all nations and a plethora of international organizations to coordinate and promote its further development. Huge transnational corporations have led the way, followed by neoliberol states, but also included are all kinds of social, scientific, sports, and other international organizations. Missing among the major players are labor unions. Why is globalization not producing transnational labor organization? A world-system perspective is employed to explain that the sources of increased market integration are also culprits in the weakening of unions and the associated decline of the welfare state. The authors overview the current state of international labor politics and examine the prospects of the leading organizations, focusing on North America. The research agenda that is advocated emphasizes a tong-term perspective and a new look at the past repertoire of international organizing.

Caraway, Teri L. 2004. “Protective Repression, International Pressure, and Institutional Design: Explaining Labor Reform in Indonesia.” Studies in Comparative International Development (September): 28-49.

Scholars of comparative politics studying labor reform in developing countries have highlighted variables such as the power of the labor movement, the ordering of reforms, partisan links, and the strength of employer organizations to explain different labor reform outcomes. These variables, however, cannot explain labor’s success in Indonesia, where labor reforms both strengthened labor’s collective rights and defended against flexibilization. Through an analysis of the process of labor reform in Indonesia, this article stresses the impact of the institutional legacies of authoritarianism and the role of two variables overlooked or underemphasized in current studies–international pressure and institutional design.

Caraway, Teri L., Maria Lorena Cook, and Stephen Crowley. 2015. “Working Through The Past: Labor and Authoritorian Legacies in Comparative Perspective.” ILR Press : 1-234.

Democratization in the developing and post-communist world has yielded limited gains for labor. Explanations for this phenomenon have focused on the effect of economic crisis and globalization on the capacities of unions to become influential political actors and to secure policies that benefit their members. In contrast, the contributors to Working through the Past highlight the critical role that authoritarian legacies play in shaping labor politics in new democracies, providing the first cross-regional analysis of the impact of authoritarianism on labor, focusing on East and Southeast Asia, Eastern Europe, and Latin America.

Legacies from the predemocratic era shape labor’s present in ways that both limit and enhance organized labor’s power in new democracies. Assessing the comparative impact on a variety of outcomes relevant to labor in widely divergent settings, this volume argues that political legacies provide new insights into why labor movements in some countries have confronted the challenges of neoliberal globalization better than others.

Ciorciari, John D. 2012. “Institutionalizing Human Rights in Southeast Asia.” Human Rights Quarterly (August): 695-725.

In 2009 and 2010, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) established two new human rights bodies: an inter-governmental human rights commission and a commission for the protection of the rights of women and children. This article examines the process leading to their creation, focusing on the normative and political debates that made creating an ASEAN human rights mechanism a long and challenging process. It then analyzes the commissions’ institutional features and shows how their design constrains their present capacity to promote and protect human rights. Finally, the article discusses the possibilities for near-term institutional evolution.

Edelman, Marc. 2001. “Social Movements: Changing Paradigms and Forms of Politics.” Annual Review of Anthropology (October): 285-317.

Theories of collective action have undergone a number of paradigm shifts, from “mass behavior” to “resource mobilization,” “political process,” and “new social movements.” Debates have centered on the applicability of these frameworks in diverse settings, on the periodization of collective action, on the divisive or unifying impact of identity politics, and on the appropriateness of political engagement by researchers. Transnational activist networks are developing new protest repertoires that challenge anthropologists and other scholars to rethink conventional approaches to social movements.

Ford, Michele. 2004. “Organizing the Unorganizable: Unions, NGOs, and Indonesian Migrant Labour.” International Migration (December): 99-119.

There has been little engagement between the organized labour and labour migration literatures. Studies of organized labour movements in Asia have traditionally focused on trade unions that organize workers in factories, in offices, and on the plantations of the countries in which those unions are based, or on international cooperation between such unions. Studies of migrant labour, on the other hand, have tended to emphasize the demographic features of labour migration flows, or the experiences of migrant workers in either their country of origin or their host society. Yet, with the help of local and international non-governmental organizations (NGOs), migrant workers from countries such as the Philippines and Indonesia are beginning to organize both at home and abroad. This article examines the emergence and operation of both migrant labour NGOs and migrant labour associations from a labour movement perspective. It focuses on the schism between the literature on labour migration, in which descriptions of migrant labour NGOs most often appear, and the literature on organized labour, which has generally ignored both the increasing significance of temporary overseas labour migration and the role of non-union bodies in the organization of labour. Examples from Indonesia and Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of China (herinafter Hong Kong) are used to argue that the experiences of migrant labour NGOs and migrant labour associations should be taken more seriously by trade unions and by the scholars who study them.

Ford, Michele, and Theshara Dibley. 2012. “Experiments in Cross-Scalar Labour Organizing: Reflections on Trade Union-Building Work in Aceh after the 2004 Tsunami.” Antipode (March): 303-320.

As part of the post-tsunami reconstruction effort in Aceh, international labour movement organizations ‘jumped scale’ in an attempt to revitalize a moribund local labour movement. This article provides a close analysis of the four internationally sponsored trade union building projects undertaken as part of that process. This unique intervention sheds light on the crucial role of local context and the extent to which the principles of international solidarity and the pragmatics of trade union diplomacy are mediated through money, institutions, individuals and day-to-day activities. The Aceh case underscores the importance of contingency and the agency of individuals in shaping an international intervention of this kind. In doing so it demonstrates how circuits of labour activism can be affected by constraints and opportunities unrelated to trade union politics or the relations of production.

Hadiz, Vedi R. 2002. “The Indonesian Labour Movement. Resurgent or Constrained?” Southeast Asian Affairs (January): 130.

Focuses on the labor movement in Indonesia. Impact of political reforms on the position of organized labor; Labor organizing during the late Suharto years; Status of the industrial relations system; Labor reforms.

Ingleson, John. 2001. “The Legacy of Colonial Labour Unions in Indonesia.” Australian Journal of Politics & History (March): 85-100.

This article discusses the legacy of the colonial labour movement in Indonesia under five broad headings; labour unions and the development of political consciousness; labour unions as socio-economic institutions; leaders, followers and the development of worker leadership; organisations and structural legacies; and class, ethnic and religious divisions. For over three decades after the first labour union was created in 1908, union leaders struggled to build organisations that cut across the ethnic, linguistic and social class divisions of Indonesian workplaces. They had limited success. Nevertheless, labour unions did have an important role in increasing workers’ wages, representing their grievances to employers and forcing the colonial government to pressure employers to improve both wages and conditions. They were central to the development of political consciousness, creating opportunities for Indonesians to acquire organisational skills and providing a channel for many to join nationalist political parties. In 1941, on the eve of the Japanese occupation, labour unions were among the strongest Indonesian organisations in the colonial towns and cities. In the aftermath of independence in August 1945 labour unions were quickly re-formed and, freed from many of the restrictions of the colonial states, recruited large numbers of urban workers. The successes and failures of the colonial labour movement were part of the collective memory of many leaders and members, influencing the direction of post-independence activities.

Juliawan, Benny Hari. 2011. “Street-level Politics: Labour Protests in Post-Authoritarian Indonesia.” Journal of Contemporary Asia (August): 349-370.

Over the past ten years, Indonesia has seen an interesting trend in political action on the part of labour. Once risky activity, street protests have been decriminalised and become a common sight in many parts of the country, especially in urban areas. Industrial workers take to the streets in large numbers to challenge the state and business interests perceived as hostile to their material and political interests. Interestingly, scholars have largely neglected this phe- nomenon and instead focused on labour’s failure to develop as a meaningful political force. This paper assesses the significance of labour protests and the light they throw on the development of a certain mode of engagement with the post-authoritarian state. It is suggested that the prolifera- tion of protests among workers may sow the seeds of a ‘‘movement society.’’

Mizuno, Kosuke. 2005. “The Rise of Labor Movements and the Evolution of the Indonesian System of Industrial Relations.” The Developing Economies (March): 190-211.

This study analyzes a case of labor conflict at a garment company in West Java with particular reference to the rules and strategies among the parties involved. Using game theory, the study analyzes the formation of the critical point of labor conflict and examines the negotiations that led to the formation of stable industrial relations. At that point, the Nash equilibrium was at the company strategy of collaboration and at the workers’ strategy of hostility, the company having assumed that the workers would mount a strong resistance to the company’s hostile strategy. Under circumstances of weak law enforcement, the effective strategy for the workers was not only to obtain knowledge concern- ing the law but also to gain the support of the community, as well as solidarity among union members, and to pursue creative strategies. This study also shows that an important rule for stabilizing industrial relations is continual communication among the company, labor unions, and the members of the workers’ organizations.

Neureiter, Michael. 2013. “Organized Labor and Democratization in Southeast Asia.”      Asian Survey (December): 1063-1086.

This study argues that well organized labor movements and increasing labor mobilization played a crucial role in the democratic transitions in Indonesia in 1998 and the Philippines in 1986. In contrast, the presence of less active and less organized labor unions in Malaysia, Myanmar, and Singapore appears to be an important reason for the durability of authoritarianism in those countries.

O’Rourke, Dara. 2000. “Monitoring the Monitors: A Critique of Price Water House Coopers (PWC) Labor Monitoring.” Department of Urban Studies and Planning (September): 1-15.

One of the key issues surrounding “sweatshop” issues today involves the development of systems for monitoring conditions in the thousands of factories around the world which produce garments, shoes, toys, and other goods. Governments, non-governmental organizations, and multinational firms are all currently working to develop systems and protocols to track production practices and treatment of workers in far-flung supply chains. Monitoring labor practices has become a linchpin of efforts to analyze and improve factory conditions around the world.

This report presents an assessment of the world’s largest private monitor of labor and environmental practices – PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC). PwC performed over 6,000 factory audits in 1999, including monitoring for Nike, Disney, Walmart, the Gap, Jones Apparel, and other multinational shoe, garment, and toy companies. PwC also monitors for a number of universities and their licensees. PwC is leading the development of corporate monitoring systems and is poised to become one of the main auditors for, and most influential participants in, the Fair Labor Association and the Worldwide Responsible Apparel Production (WRAP) monitoring programs. In many ways, PwC is setting the standard for what corporate monitors will do, how they will do it, and how much they will charge.

Until now, because their reports are secret, no independent analyst has been able to evaluate the monitoring procedures of PwC or any of the other main auditing firms. This report thus presents the first detailed assessment of PwC’s monitoring methods and audit tools. The findings of this report provide clear evidence of the limitations of PwC’s monitoring systems. This should send a cautionary note to universities, manufacturers, and others considering hiring monitors or joining monitoring initiatives involving firms such as PwC.

The report is based on an analysis of PwC’s written auditing protocols and a detailed assessment of factory audits conducted by PwC auditors in Shanghai, China and Seoul, Korea. The analysis for this report was conducted while doing research for the Independent University Initiative (IUI), a research project supported by Harvard, Notre Dame, Ohio State, the University of California, and the University of Michigan. This report however, is neither endorsed nor sanctioned by these universities or the IUI.

It should be noted that all of the problems identified during this research occurred while PwC auditors knew they were under close scrutiny. PwC auditors were informed months in advance that I would accompany them on these audits. Presumably, PwC sent their best, most experienced auditors to conduct these inspections, and these were representative of PwC’s general auditing procedures. This raises even greater concerns about normal auditing procedures.

O’Rourke, Dara. 2003. “Outsourcing Regulation: Analyzing Nongovernmental Systems of Labor Standards and Monitoring.” The Policy Studies Journal: 1-29.

A range of new nongovernmental systems for advancing labor standards and enforcement have emerged over the last 5 years. This article comparatively assesses these multistake- holder systems of codes of conduct and monitoring, discusses their underlying models of regulation, and proposes a set of criteria for evaluating their effectiveness, including their legitimacy, rigor, accountability, and complementarity. Critical issues are raised about the transparency of existing initiatives, independence of monitors, convergence of standards, and dynamics among nongovernmental regulation, unions, and state enforcement. The article concludes by arguing that with increased transparency, improved technical capac- ities, and new mechanisms of accountability to workers and consumers, nongovernmental monitoring could complement existing state regulatory systems.

Palmer, Susannah. 2008. “Freedom of Association and Collective Bargaining Indonesian Experience 2003-2008.” International Labour Organization: 1-28.

Indonesia has undergone a major transition in its labour law regime over the past ten (10) years, with the ratification of all the ILO Core Labour Conventions including ILO Convention No.87 concerning freedom of association and protection of the right to organize and the enactment of three new Labour Acts since 1998; the Trade Union Act, the Manpower Act and the Settlement of Industrial Disputes Act, to complete its labour law reforms and to give effect to its international obligations.

This paper is intended to provide an update on the progress of implementing and realizing freedom of association and collective bargaining in Indonesia over the past five years (2003 – 2008).

Peluso, Nancy Lee, Suraya Afiff, and Noer Fauzi Rachman. 2008. “Claiming the Grounds for Reform: Agrarian and Environmental Movements in Indonesia.” Journal of Agrarian Change. (July): 377-407.

This essay examines the convergences, tensions and mutual influences of agrarian and environmental movements in Indonesia and their connections to transnational movements under state-led development and neoliberal governance regimes. The authors argue that environmental movements of the last quarter of the twentieth century affected the strategies, struggles, mutual relations with, and public discourses of resurgent agrarian movements in diverse ways. Environmental movements had significant influences on national policy, law and practice within a decade of their emergence under the state-led development regime of President Suharto. Environmental activists used the appearance of technical ‘apolitical’ concerns to their advantage. They mobilized at multiple scales, targeting laws and other institutions of state power at the same time as organizing the grassroots. The repression of the Suharto regime forced agrarian reform activists underground, while environmental issues were mainstreamed. Agrarian movements in Indonesia today, under a decentralized regime dominated by neoliberal policies, have faced new opportunities and constraints due to national and transnational influences of environmental and agrarian reform discourses and networks. We show how these influences have changed the political fields within which Indonesian agrarian movement groups operate: forming, shifting and struggling over critical alliances.

Törnquist, Olle. 2004. “Labour and Democracy? Reflections on the Indonesian Impasse.” Journal of Contemporary Asia (August): 377-399.

Explores the role of labor in the final ousting of former Indonesian president Suharto. Struggle for democratic rights under Suharto; Effect of capitalism on workers; Role of labor in resisting economic exploitation.

1993. “Indonesia: Charges and Rebuttals over Labor Rights Practices.” Asia Watch (January): 1-20.

The following article discusses the allegations and case between the Asia Watch and the Indonesian government. The Indonesian government claims that they recognize the unions formed within the country. Asia Watch alleges that this is false, because the Indonesian government makes it impossible for unions to form and to be legally recognized. Some independent unions have been threatened and harassed making circumstances difficult for unions to remain established. *ABSTRACT BY SHANNAY BARADARAN