Politics of Representation of the Workers' Movements in Indonesia

Friday, July 18, 2014: 6:15 PM
Room: 315
Oral Presentation
Hari NUGROHO , Sociology, Leiden University, Leiden, Netherlands
The paper will discuss the politics of representation of union and different categories of its constituency in the post authoritarian Indonesia. Amidst the pressure of labour market liberalisation that erodes the union power in the workplace, union starts to develop the strategy of community unionism and tries to play a broader political role through local electoral politics. The purpose of such experiment is aimed for mobilizing broader support to increase union political bargaining position in front of the state and employers. The union includes other local social groups such as urban poor, informal workers, and peasants as new categories of constituency.  Consequently the integration of workers and the non-workers groups into union constituency results in increasing heterogeneity of the constituency. Workers are not a homogeneous category, let alone the non-workers groups. While the union is mobilizing the constituency, groups within constituency are actually still fragmented within their partial identities and interests.  The relations between them and the union are vulnerable to contestation. This condition creates vulnerabilities within the body of constituency. This paper will show the interplay between the strategic homogenization and the heterogeneous realities. It will also discuss the power relations within the process of mobilization in dealing with the problems of representation gap.  On the other hand, it will also look at how the labour process as well as external social context influence the dynamics.   The discussion in the paper is based on a case of study on a workers’ movement in one industrial city in the province of Central Java, Indonesia.