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3. From Confrontation to Accommodation

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Chapter Summary

European unions had observed the rise and fall of Indonesian labour unions, their struggles to build enduring branch structures and retain worker support, and the fierce reaction of the colonial state to the strike waves of the early 1920s. The railway workers' union, the VSTP, was banned after the PKI uprisings. The colonial government regarded Surjopranoto as radical, unpredictable and irresponsible. Indonesian unions, open to all Indonesian post office workers irrespective of rank, emerged in the late 1910s in Bandung, Semarang and Surabaya. Advocates of the Ethical Policy believed that an expansion of western education to Indonesians was a core task of the colonial government and was the key to the development of the colony. The first major attempt to organise Surabaya workers in the private sector after the demise of the PKI was the formation of the Sarekat Kaum Buruh Indonesia (Indonesian Workers Association SKBI) in July 1928.

Keywords: colonial government; ethical policy; European unions; Indonesian labour unions; Indonesian post office workers; PKI uprisings; railway workers union; Sarekat Kaum Buruh Indonesia; Surjopranoto



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