(3) Labour Union and the Intersection between the “Two Types of Works”

Yesterday, I went to a gathering of Serikat SINDIKASI (Union of Creative Industry and Media Workers for Democracy), a new labour union in the making. I join SINDIKASI as a part of media’s activist (FYI, I am an editorial member of indoprogress.com, an alternative media connecting progressive scholars and activists in Indonesia). Just like other unions, SINDIKASI is special and unique. Those who work in media the creative industry should join this union, I think. It is important to join a union because not only we can fight for our rights and channeling our aspirations, but we can also conduct researchs together, make some public literacy projects, educate ourselves through education programme in our union, and so on.

Actually, I was involved intensively in a labour union back in medio 2009 to 2010 and have been done research on some labour unions for my bachelor thesis in 2011. I also involved in some education projects in some labour unions until early 2017. From that experience, I see that the way we look at a labour union is important to decide what will we do in our union. We cannot see a labour union only as a place that will aggregate our interests, but also we can see it as our place to doing another important things like research and literacy projects. The members of FSBKU (Karya Utama Labour Union Federation) for instance, have been done some research projects at their union and used their research findings for their advocacy against contract and outsourcing working system in Tangerang. Superb! isn’t it? J

Regarding to that, there are some thoughts crossed my mind from yesterday gathering! First, about workers words. Second, about material and immaterial labour and third, about tutur pekerja/workers narration. This mini article aims to explain my thoughts about those three things (but only in a sketch form not an elaborated one) ^_^. Ok, let’s start. When we gathered yesterday, a friend who works in a big media corporation in Indonesia told us about his experience in dealth with injustice at his office. One interesting thing from his story (beside the story itself) for me is about his words, some particular words that specifically describe a recent working condition happens in his workplace, such as “release” (or “rilis” in Indonesia language) is used in his corporation to ameliorate “ lay-offs”. I think it is important to us to identify the other words used in the industrial relations in our fields because, as we all know, back in the New Order era, language was also used to weakened the labour movements and to change people’s perspectives about industrial relations (that unfortunately, we still can see until today, such as “there is no class conflict”, “worker and employer have same intrerest”, “karyawan is not buruh”, and so on, which are wrong!).

I also thought about a discource emerged at yesterday gathering, that is about immaterial labour. In the context of labour politics, I think I disagree to divide material and immaterial labour because it intersects each other: there is always material dimensions in immaterial labour and vice versa, there is always immaterial dimensions in material labour. Moreover, this segregation in forms of “skilled labour” and “unskilled labour” has discriminated many factory workers as with those kind of term, they works are still not considered as “skilled labour” because it assumed that it is not involves “immaterial factors” such as creativity, brain, etc. In fact, they absolutely work with they brain, of course! And also, as I mentioned above, the so called “unskilled labour” in FSBKU have been done some research projects. I only agree to see more about immaterial labour in the context of research to know more about labour condition in the media and creative industry, etc but to engage this segregation in the labour movements (I repeat), I disagree because it potentially causing a new boundary among the workers unions.

Last but not least, I thought about tutur pekerja/workers narration session that was happened at yesterday gathering. I firmly believe that this kind of session is crucial in workers unions to keep update about the most recent working condition in each field, to maintain the relation between union members and it can also can be used as research entry point in the union. So yes, that’s all my thoughts from yesterday gathering. J

-Fathimah Fildzah Izzati-