Global Solidarity is the key to our current and future fights

Working in a company that works on a project financed under the Belt Road Initiative (BRI) scheme to meet 35 megawatts of electricity demand, a project launched by President Joko Widodo, should put workers in a very good position.In Yolanda’s view, when the infrastructure project being undertaken is a national strategic project that is a top priority, the welfare of workers should also be prioritized. “But in reality, we are in the very opposite state,” said Yolanda.

Started working in September 2019, Yolanda then joined the Labor Union which had just been formed at her workplace in December 2019. Her experience in joining the union gave her new experiences that she did not get from school. When she was still in school, she thought about a very ideal working world: work, get paid, be prosperous. “Unfortunately, everything is different once you entered the world of work. The picture of the ideal working world is not real,” she explained about her working situation.

At the project of PLTU Sumsel 1, she witnessed many violations of labor laws. In her workplace, apart from wages that are still below the regency minimum wage and unpaid overtime wages, there are no health facilities, no health protection, bad personal protective equipment, long working hours, and a high risk of work accidents. Due to the small number of female workers, there are oftendiscrimination and lack of respect for women workers. “In a workplace dominated by men, we often get discriminative treatment,” said Yolanda.

While at the company, Yolanda had to work long hours, starting at 7.30 in the morning and returning home at 6 in the evening. This remains a threat because the distance between her house and her workplace must be taken in a long trip through the quiet and prone-to-danger plantations. “To go to work and go back home passing through the quiet rubber and oil-palm plantations, every day I worry about my own safety,” said Yolanda, full of worry.

In addition to discrimination and legal violations in companies, during the Covid-19 pandemic, workers at the PLTU location also suffered from inhuman treatment. When people were facing the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, suddenly the company annouced that the project was stopped and then the company went on lockdown without paying workers’ wages. When workers sent a complaint to the Muara Enim Manpower office, the complaintwas handled very slowly. “The government is very ignorant and doesn’t consider our condition,” she continued.

Through this # IYD2020 celebration, Yolanda hopes that the government will immediately improve this situation, respond to the pandemic professionally, prepare protection for workers, and prioritize economic improvement. She also supports the BWI Global Union to continue to promote the rights of young workers and women workers like herself who face many problems in the workplace. “Young workers must be empowered, the first condition is that the union must be strong,” said Yolanda.

Happy Celebration of #IYD2020. Amandla!