By the FNPBI
The governments of England and the US were the first to introduce neo-liberal economic policies, thanks to Thatcher and Reagan. This exploitative policy subsequently became what's been called "globalisation". Developed countries have succeeded in putting pressure on countries in the third world to open up their markets, implement trade liberalisation to the fullest and cut off subsidies for the poor. This process has been sustained despite the enormous misery ordinary people have to suffer.
Blair is also a loyal supporter of neoliberal policies, which would throw hundreds of thousands of British workers into unemployment.
In Indonesia, we have read about the struggle of the firefighters for a decent wage. We saw photos of teachers rallying in the streets of London last month, demanding increased allowances, to be able to live decently in London. For the Fire Brigades Union, this is the first national strike for 25 years. We hope that this will be the forefront of a movement against low pay and privatisation in Britain.
We have tried to find differences between the economic policy of Tony Blair and the one we have under President Megawati in our country.
But we hardly find any. The Indonesian government has sold telecommunications companies, along with some transportation enterprises, including airports, water, cement, ports and will soon be selling the state's oil company, Pertamina. Education, housing and health subsidies are starting to disappear, while at the same time the value of wages has dropped 25% since the start of the crisis, and will soon fall further. The government has failed to prevent 40 million workers from losing their jobs. And life is becoming much harder, not only for workers, but also for the urban poor, poor peasant, women and children.
The politics of the two governments seem similar.
That is why we think solidarity should not merely be words, but must be put into action. We've learned that solidarity for the firefighters comes from many section of the working class in Britain. Health workers, nurses, postal workers and teachers express their anger and disappointment over the Government's policy by giving support for the FBU. This wide range of solidarity will be a strength itself in forcing the Government to change its policy. All over the world, unions, students and peasants have joined in big rallies against privatisation and globalisation and have joined the anti-war movements. Resistance becomes globalised when poverty and injustice become daily practices in this world of capitalism.
If Tony Blair and Megawati want job cuts and more privatisation, then we say get rid of the neoliberal economic policy. We definitely do not want to get decent wages only to face longer hours at work, which means less time with our family and friends. The firefighters, teachers, postal workers and nurses are both victims and fighters. Millions of workers in a highly indebted and poor country named Indonesia share your ideas, angers, worries and struggle, despite the distance, historical gap and living conditions we have between us. We pray for your victory in this strike, as we always pray for the victory of our members' strikes. We wish you strength and confidence in dealing with whatever kinds of repression and threats the Blair government will probably try to make. We wish you a strike and a world to win.
We want a government that protects the interest of the poor people, instead of selling them out. If Blair and Megawati's governments prefer to be the servants of big multinational companies, are we wrong to say that we prefer to have a completely new government, in a completely new economic system?