In their respective countries, HARLEY
KOESNA POERADIREDJA and PALAYIL PATHAZAPURAYIL NARAYANAN have guided labor
organizations which have contributed significantly to community living.
In May, 13 years ago, Mr. KOESNA accepted the challenge of leading
Indonesian railway workers who came to seek his help in developing a free
trade union that would deal with vocational problems. Their concern was
alliances between labor and political parties forged during the struggle for
independence which were thwarting emergence of unions as instruments of
effective economic action.
In building the Persatuan Buruh Kerata Api (PBKA), or Railways Workers'
Union of Indonesia, KOESNA adapted to Indonesian needs some methods used
successfully by genuine trade unions elsewhere. The progressive and
well-administered PBKA is solidly founded on monthly membership dues.
Members now benefit from such joint enterprises as an accident insurance
program, a savings and loan bank, a housing loan fund and a hospital.
Most notable have been the Union's efforts to protect members in a prolonged
period of more rapid increase in prices than wages. Through operation of
rice mills, a clothing and shoe factory and a soap plant, prime need
commodities are provided at low cost and workers' incomes augmented by
employing other family members.
Strict management of union funds permitted savings that financed
construction of a modern four-story headquarters in Bandung and the purchase
of a printing press for union publications. Insistent, well-substantiated
representations on behalf of members to the Government-run Railway
Administration have resulted in such improvements as safeguards to minimize
unemployment, a pension fund which protects widows and orphans as well as
retired railway personnel, and a Moslem New Year bonus.
Convinced that society should see to the welfare of the common man, KOESNA
nevertheless insists that people must work to better themselves. Through the
years he had remained humble but resolute; giving the workers what they
want, not only what he thinks is best for them, he insists the PBKA must
have no political domination.
Similar goals were being sought in Malaya by P. P. NARAYANAN, an immigrant
from South India at the age of 14. Inspired by Malaya as a land of
opportunity, hard labor in a tin mine and on a rubber plantation as an
impressionable 19-year-old nurtured in him an intense desire to help workers
share in the promising future.
Starting with a group of 10 men at Seremban in 1946, he formed the nucleus
that ultimately became the National Union of Plantation Workers (NUPW) of
Malaya. With a strength of 180,000 dues paying members, it is today one of
the largest, richest, and best organized in Southeast Asia.
P. P. NARAYANAN began his undertaking in a period of insurgency when both
managers and many estate workers held the common belief that trade unionists
were professional troublemakers and union membership meant sympathizing with
the terrorists. He had not only to win with the employers the case for
labor's legitimate aspirations but also prove to labor the benefits of
Plantation workers measure the consequences of this effort today in a wage
scale that is four times higher than before they were organized. Medical
care for workers and their families, improved housing to meet new government
standards, education for children and a respect for labor as an essential
part of the community have become common features on Malayan plantations.
The Union does not exist only to get more from management but concerns
itself with education of workers on their responsibilities as trade
unionists and citizens.
The NUPW today is esteemed both by men who sit across the bargaining table
and abroad for its forthright conduct of workers' interests. "Negotiate
first" is the rule, and compromise is usually reached without stoppage of
work. The Union discourages communal discrimination and maintains political
affiliation is an individual matter for each member. It publishes the only
labor paper in Malaya, in Tamil, Chinese and Malay editions. With strength
in depth through second and third level officers trained in union
management, NUPW leaders have traveled to share their experience with
similar groups in other developing countries.
In electing HARLEY KOESNA POERADIREDJA and PALAYIL PATHAZAPURAYIL NARAYANAN
as the 1962 Ramon Magsaysay Awardees for Community Leadership, the Board of
Trustees recognizes their championship of the workers' cause through
vigorous advancement of responsible and free trade unionism.