As part of the call for a Global May Day an alliance of the Free Workers’ Union (FAU) Hamburg, Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) Hamburg as well as the initiative Black-Red May Day Hamburg organized two actions: call for an antiauthoritarian rally in the traditional working class district Harburg for May Day itself and a rally in front of an H&M store in the posh city centre of Hamburg in support of garment workers organized with Inter-Factory Workers’ Federation (FBLP) in Jakarta and Dabindu Collective Sri Lanka the day after.
It was the first time an explicitly anarchist rally took place in this part of the city. Up to 500 people came together, which was a great success. Several inputs were held, focussing on capitalism, racism, sexism, rent and expressing solidarity with garment workers in Jakarta (in cooperation with feminist union FBLP) and Sri Lanka (in cooperation with Dabindu Collective).
Some fireworks added colour to the demo. Although the rally was accompanied by about 100 robocops later on, nobody was injured or arrested. A good day in the streets.
Media coverage was pretty extensive (though hardly focussing on any content):
NDR.de (clip), tazNord (stream1), tazNord (stream2), tazNord (stream3), tazNord (stream4), abendblatt.de, aktuelles-aus-suederelbe.de, mopo.de
Solidarity rally with garment workers at H&M store
A garment factory run by PT Hansae Indonesia Utama will shut down in Jakarta in May 8th. Currently the more than 450 workers of that factory are struggling for a proper compensation. The company shifted it’s production capacities to another factory in Central Java, because wages are even lower there. In average garment workers in Jakarta earn around 3,6 mio Ruppiah (~ 250 US$) per month. The Inter-Factory Workers’ Federation (FBLP) demands that workers get a proper compensation for loosing their income due to the closure. PT Hansae Indonesia Utama claims bankruptcy (therefore would have to pay much less as compensation) but fails to prove this claim and keeps running a second factory in Central Java.
Right now (May 4th) the company tries to split the workers’ solidarity by offering some workers an allowance and refusing to pay it for others, like contact workers.
A workers’ assembly will be organized for May 5th, where the next steps will be discussed.
Garment workers from various factories across Sri Lanka – particularly in the Free Trade Zone of Katunayake – are organized in the Dabindu Collective. We also forwarded their demands to the H&M management in Germany:
- Living wage, while reducing working hours to 8 hours per day (currently the normal working day takes 12 hours)! Average monthly wage is 20,000 – 25,000 LKR (~ 112 – 140 US$ incl. overtime and bonus payments). Dabindu Collective demands at least 54,000 LKR (~ 304 US$) as a monthly living wage.
- STOP of sexual harassment and other forms of gender-based violence! H&M should include a clear definition of GBV in their code of conduct. This issue must be part of contracts with the companies running the factories and progress must be evaluated regularly.
- Strengthening self-organization! No repression of workers getting organized. Formation of women committees in the factories.
Furthermore the management was asked to directly get in touch with FBLP and the Dabindu Collective. Strangely though the people we spoke to refused to give us their names and what position within H&M they have. They seem slightly annoyed and tried hard to stay friendly.
Around 20 people actively helped with the rally and distributed more than 800 pamphlets to the public and H&M customers within four hours. Recorded messages from FBLP and the Dabindu Collective as well as music were played. Just like the demo in Harburg the rally in front of the H&M store was organized by the local Global May Day alliance.
At the end of this report we want to share some basic details on FBLP and Dabindu Collective.
Inter-Factory Workers’ Federation (FBLP)
- founded in June 2009
- approx. number of members: 1,500
- mostly active in KBN industrial park in north Jakarta
- main goals: for contract workers to become permanent workers; stopping gender-based violence; supporting LGBTQ workers
- structures: media department, women section, advocacy section, research and development section, organizer section
- As part of their work FBLP also runs a community radio called Marsinah Radio.
- founded in 1984
- approx. number of members: 750
- main goals: feminist organization for garment workers to organize themselves, especially within the Export Processing Zone (FTZ) of Katunayake; empowering garment workers through educational programs; propagating human rights especially for female workers