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From Western Hemisphere Conference <theorganizer@labornet.org>
Date Wed, 1 Jul 98 22:21:44 -0000

      A - I N F O S  N E W S  S E R V I C E


July 1, 1998

To:  All Supporters of the WHC
     All Supporters of International Labor Rights

Dear Sisters and Brothers:

On June 7, Ed Rosario, coordinator of the Western Hemisphere
Workers Conference (WHC) Continuations Committee, participated in
the Independent Trade Union Conference in Defense of the ILO 
Conventions, held in Geneva. The conference was initiated by
the International Liaison Committee for a Workers' International
(ILC) -- one of the main organizers of the Western Hemisphere
Conference in San Francisco last November.

One of the participants at the conference in Geneva was a 
representative of the new independent union federation in Indonesia 
-- the SBSI. We are reprinting below two important documents dealing 
with the Indonesian trade union movement. The first is a communique, 
released June 23 by Daniel Gluckstein, international coordinator of 
the ILC. It is a call to defend the newly recognized independent union
federation from government repression.

The second text is an edited and slightly abridged transcription
of the presentation by the delegate from the SBSI to the June 7
Conference in Geneva.

We call on all supporters of trade union rights to rally to the
cause of the independent union federation in Indonesia. If you
are interested in organizing delegations to Indonesian embassies
and consulates across the United States, please contact the WHC
Continuations Committee [see email, phone and addresses below].

Thanks for your interest and support.

In Solidarity,

Alan Benjamin and Ed Rosario,
for the WHC Continuations Committee


[WHC Continuations Committee, c/o San Francisco Labor Council (AFL-CIO), 
1188 Franklin St., suite 203, San Francisco, CA 94109. 
Tel. (415) 681-5868. Fax: (415) 641-8616. 
email addresses: unite@igc.org or theorganizer@igc.org.]



Labor officials and activists from 36 countries met at an international 
conference for the defense of ILO norms and conventions, for the defense 
of independent trade unions. The gathering was called by the International 
Liaison Committee for a Workers' International (ILC). They had the pleasure 
to greet the representative of the Indonesian Independent Trade Union 
Confederation (SBSI), comrade Rekson Silaban, who explained that his 
organization had just been legalized. 

This was one of the first results of the mobilization of the Indonesian 
people, which led to the fall of Suharto.

As comrade Silaban said: "Suharto seemed to be irremovable, but when the 
people occupied the parliament and told the chairman of the parliament 
they would not allow him to leave before announcing Suharto's 
resignation, he announced it -- and it did make Suharto resign."

The International Liaison Committee for a Workers' International 
considers that it is its duty to immediately call upon all who were 
represented in Geneva, all the organisations and activists associated with 
the ILC, and the labor movement as a whole, concerning the serious threats 
weighing upon the Indonesian independent trade union today.

On Tuesday June 23, an Agence France Presse dispatch reported:

"Military authorities warned on Tuesday [June 23], the eve of the mass rally 
called by a trade union leader on Wednesday in the centre of Jakarta, that 
they would 'crush' all street demonstrations by the workers. 'Anyone threating
national security will have to confront my troops. I ordered them to 
give first a warning, then to crush people if necessary,' the Jakarta 
military commander, Sjafrie Sjamsuddin, said yesterday to the Jakarta 
Post newspaper."

Twenty-five thousand troops have been stationed throughout the capital. The 
trade union calling this demonstration is the SBSI, presided by Muchtar 
Pakpahn, and its goal is to demand that president Habibie, nominated by 
Suharto, turn power over to a transition government in charge of organizing 
free elections.

The ILC calls upon all organizations and all activists defending workers' 
rights and democracy to organize immediate initiatives (in particular 
delegations to the Indonesian embassies and consulates):

- To demand that the right to demonstrate and trade union rights -- which 
the Indonesian workers have long fought for ‹ be implemented;
- To proclaim their total solidarity with the SBSI and the Indonesian workers.

It is the duty of all to defend the SBSI, to defend democratic rights, 
and to protect against military repression the Indonesian workers and 
their organizations

For the International Liaison Committee,
Daniel Glukcstein


International Liaison Committee - 
c/o Parti des Travailleurs, 87, 
r. du Fg St Denis 75010 Paris - France - 
Tel. (331)  - 48 01 88 29 - 
fax : (331) 40 22 01 96 



NOTE: Following is an abridged version of the presentation 
to the June 7 Independent Conference of Trade Unionists in Geneva 
by Rekson Silaban of the Indonesian Confederation of Independent 
Trade Unions (SBSI)

My name is Rekson Silaban. I am a representative of the 
Indonesian Confederation of Independent Trade Unions (SBSI). 
Our president is Muchtar Pakpahn; he was just released two weeks 
ago from prison. Thanks for giving me time to speak here and tell 
you of our struggle in Indonesia. 

SBSI was established in 1992, six years ago, in improbable 
political circumstances. At the time, the government of Suharto, 
our last president, only recognized the official government unions. 
There was a system of "monopoly unionism" ‹ something 
Suharto had introduced early on. So when we established SBSI, we 
faced a lot of restrictions. Thousands of our members were fired 
from their jobs for belonging to our federation. Hundreds of our 
members were imprisoned. Even our Second Congress last 
September, which was attended by 12 international unions, was 
interfered by the military. Two union delegations from Australia 
were retained 12 hours. So it has not been easy.

At first, we were able to recruit only a small number of militant 
activists. Due to the situation, only a few workers were willing to 
join SBSI; they knew they could be easily fired by the bosses. 
Those who joined were committed to building our union; they 
were willing to fight for their rights, whatever the cost.

As time passed, our union grew, and we joined forces with other 
sectors in the fight against the Suharto government. Suharto was 
detested. Suharto seemed to be irremovable, but when the people 
occupied the parliament and told the chairman of the parliament 
they would not allow him to leave before announcing Suharto's 
resignation, he announced it ‹ and it did make Suharto resign.
Throughout these years, we have received support from 
international unions committed to the struggle for unions 
independent of government control. 

Finally, on June 1 of this year, we formally met with the Minister 
of Labor. After having released comrade Muchtar Pakpahn from prison, 
they agreed to legalize our union ‹ which is now a legal union. We 
also insisted that the government must ratify all the core labor 
standards, and they agreed. And they will announce on Wednesday 
[June 10] that Indonesia will ratify ILO conventions 97, 111, 138 
and 105. So all the international labor standards will be ratified this 
year. This is the fruit of our continued struggle.

Our fight to build an independent union federation should be an 
example to everyone, to the workers in every country, that our 
opponents can set back the labor struggles for some time, but not 
forever. A government that does not respect labor rights has no 
legitimacy. That is a key lesson from our struggle. But our fight is 
not over, far from it. 

We are very happy to meet all of you here, and we want to thank 
you for your letters to the Indonesian government demanding 
recognition of our union, for all your letters of support. It gave us 
courage and inspiration knowing we were not alone for this 
struggle. Thank you.

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