“We do this with a hope, we don’t want to complain but we want to fight.” The sentence was written on a banner in the room where SP PDAM held its consolidation on Friday (9/9). The sentence was to remind all participants that a change can not be made without doing anything. A change must be fought.
The consolidation was special. It was held to consolidate the power and discourse to face the end of cooperation between PDAM and a private company on January 31, 2023. Fifty participants attended the consolidation meeting. The partipants were members of the union, representations from regional coordinators and leaders of SP PDAM Jakarta.
“When the cooperation started, about 4000 workers were assigned by PAM to ‘help’ the partner company. Now, out of 4000 workers, there are only 260 workers left. Therefore, at the end of this cooperation, we demand the company to see us and not overlook us,” said the chairperson of SP PDAM Jakarta, Abdul Somad, in his opening remark.
The cooperation between PAM Jakarta and the private company started in 1997. A year later, in 1998, the massive demonstration that led to reformation occurred. Workers, at that time, rejected the cooperation between both companies. The Consitution of 1945 was the foundation. The Constitution prohibits private companies to manage water which is a public good.
The struggle was finally succeeded. In 2017, the Constitutional Court stopped water privatization and return the management of water to the government of DKI Jakarta Province. However, in 2018, unfortunately, the Review of Court Decision (PK= Peninjauan Kembali) had different decision. Nevetheless, the whole process shows that trade unions are not just fighting for the interest of workers only, but also fight for our constitutional rights by rejecting water privatization.
Abdul Somad said that SP PDAM Jakarta has been fighting to ensure that workers receive their rightful rights. When the union saw unfair rangking and position, union would request re-assessment. And it worked. The non-promoted workers then got promoted.
In 2018, there were three workers who got terminated from their work. SP PDAM also advocated for their rights. Finally, the three workers got their rights to their retired day.
“We also highlighted discriminations. PAM Jaya workers received welfare benefits, while us who work in the partner coampany did not. We should have received the same benefit as them,” asserted Abdul Somad.
Member representatives and leaders participants of the consolidation meeting agreed on one thing: that at the end of this cooperation between PAM Jaya and the private company, the discrimination must also end. It is like the ones who used to work at the private company are finally coming home on early 2023. Therefore, there should be no more discrimination. The company also must give a reward as we have succeeded in doing our jobs as envoys who were assigned to work in the private company.
As said before, the cooperation started in 1998 and 4000 workers were assigned to work in the partner company. Now, there are only 260 workers left. They are the dedicated and loyal wokers. They did receive some reward, but incomparable to the reward received by the workers who stayed at PAM Jaya.
The consolidation also agreed to improve the solidarity and unity of the members. They have to show their morale militancy. That is the fuel of unions to fight.
“In the future, our struggle will be harder. The director board have changed 13 times, but workers stay workers,” Abdul Somad asserted. Therefore, in the process of termination of cooperation must not harm the workers. Workers must be involved in the process.
In the same occasion, the Chairman of the Legal Advisory Board, Anton Sihotang, SH., said that unions will be stronger when it gets the support from the members. However, if members only wait for the result, the union will not grow stronger.
“It’s us who can change our fate. Nobody else can,” he added.
Anton hoped that when the cooperation ends the condition will be better. It is our job to fight together ensuring the company to prioritize and respect its workers and also ensure that water service will be better and stay in the public hands.