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Raising young workers’ voice on the streets

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11 March, 2020Yudi Suseno was one of 50 participants in the Asia Pacific youth exchange programme in Malaysia in October 2019, and has now begun to play key role in his union in Indonesia.

What happened after the youth exchange?

Today, I am warehouse officer at the PT Taisho Pharmaceutical Indonesia branch of the Federation of Pharmaceutical and Health Workers Union (FARKES).

FARKES established a youth committee in 2018, through which we continue to organize and educate young workers.

What is your role as young union leader?

The past two years have been turbulent in Indonesia; unions have been fighting against attempts by the government to weaken workers’ benefits through labour law amendments. I have been involved in several campaigns, and have also participated in collective bargaining processes.

For the campaign against labour law amendments, I led a team of young workers from my region to attend rallies. I briefed them on the route of the march, flags and slogans, safety measures and emergency contacts.

Solidarity is our greatest strength, and that is why workers often take to the streets. In Indonesia too, take to the streets together and raise our voices so that the public and the government can hear us. That’s why it’s very important to take action, action and action!

What are the main issues in collective bargaining?

It’s difficult to bargain for the same benefits for FARKES members working in different companies, as every company has its own policy, management, investment plan etc. But we are trying to find the best solution.

Most companies in Indonesia’s pharmaceutical industry are multinational and minimum wages are not a problem for them. Wages in the company's country of origin tend to be higher than in Indonesia.

How much does younger generation know about workers’ rights and unions?
It’s our role to organize young workers; there are still many who don’t know about unions. We explain what a young trade union is, and provide education on the importance of unions. Many are very open and enthusiastic about joining a union.

Youth is the future of the union movement. This is the first part of a series of articles on Building Youth Power, following up the regional youth exchange programme.