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Chapter Summary

The late 1910s and early 1920s were heady days for the political and labour movements in Indonesia. Sarekat Islam and the Indonesian Communist Party (PKI) competed to attract urban and rural support. Following the end of the First World War, Indonesian workers sought to achieve greater wage justice from employers at a time of rising prices and skilled labour shortages. It was a period of labour militancy in the towns and cities of Java, with a strong growth of unions for workers in both the private and public sectors. The failure of the 1920s strike waves and the suppression of unions connected to the PKI were firmly etched on the minds of those who continued to try to organise urban workers. The first phase of the Indonesian labour movement was shaped by the post-First World War economic boom and the inflation that accompanied it.

Keywords: First World War; Indonesian Communist Party (PKI); Indonesian labour movement; Java; labour militancy; labour movement; political movement; private sector; public sector; Sarekat Islam



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