There were considerable changes in Indonesia's industrial relations climate and regulatory framework during the Habibie interregnum. This article explores the implications of those changes for informal workers' organizations, unions and labour-oriented NGOs. The article is divided into two sections. The first section reflects upon the philosophy, institutions and practice of labour relations under Suharto's New Order and describes organized opposition to the industrial relations system, while the second describes the ways in which labour relations and representation changed during the Habibie interregnum.
NGOs, Trade Unions and the Indonesian Labour Movement
Michele Ford and Thushara Dibley
In this article we examine the extent to which mediated diffusion through trade union development aid succeeded in helping to establish a labour movement in Aceh after the 2004 tsunami. The international labour movement organisations involved in the post-tsunami reconstruction effort in Aceh focused their efforts primarily on humanitarian aid, physical infrastructure and vocational education. However, they also supported trade union-building programs, which succeeded in strengthening individual trade unions and instilling a sense of shared identity amongst Acehnese labour activists but ultimately failed to ensure the sustainability of the movement. We argue that while the Aceh case highlights the importance of local context to the outcomes of such interventions, the constraints imposed on international labour donors and their local counterparts by their focus on reconstruction and the time pressures of the post-tsunami aid cycle raise questions about the efficacy of the aid model as a means of promoting the growth of a social movement.