Institutions and Collective Action in Divided Labour Movements: Evidence from Indonesia

12 December 2017

Under what conditions do trade unions in divided labour movements cooperate? Does cooperation in one domain increase the likelihood of cooperation in the other? Do institutions facilitate or discourage cooperation? We explore these questions through an examination of collective action across federation and confederation lines in post-Suharto Indonesia. Using a comparison of union cooperation in the policy and electoral domains, we demonstrate that tripartite wage-setting institutions have played a central role in facilitating collective action in the policy domain, encouraging unions to look beyond shop-level issues to policy issues identified by their respective national organizations as affecting workers. The relative absence of collective action across organizational divides in the electoral domain, meanwhile, can be explained by the institutional context, which creates higher barriers to unions working together.