As Multibillionaire Rise, Others Fall

Artwork by Alessandro Mulya

It’s another day and another dollar — and that’s how the story goes…both for employees and CEOs. But knowing well that one could make another day and another couple of thousands dollars by skimping the lower employees wages is also another day indeed.

Here in Indonesia, start-ups rise and fall, and unicorns and decacorns stay healthy and rich…they are “too big to fail”, they say. They have too much money, they say. But how much is too much for big corporates? Recently, a merger between Gojek, Indonesia’s leading delivery app and Tokopedia, also another Indonesia’s leading marketplace app joined forces. You would think with the billions of dollar they have, they could provide more for the thousands working the wheel inside, but they don’t. The delivery incentives plummeted from Rp.45.000 for 10 deliveries to just Rp.2.000 for 10 to 14 deliveries. They receives virtually no healthcare and insurances, keeping the hope for the family barely afloat ( or even sinking at this very moment ).

Another one has been the case of Aice Ice Cream company. This company has reportedly made pregnant women to work and had miscarriage. The low-wage, high-risk jobs like these wasn’t certainly the first case and not the last one, either. Combine that with the horrible office mess they have to live in and you’d realize that as a teenager like myself thought, not every office is guaranteed to make your life better in one way or another. Some just want to straight-up low blow you and uppercut you in your chin and take all your money, leaving chump change behind and one note with a bold, capital letters spelled “resignation letter”, where you have no pen available, and you sign it with your own blood ( okay, that was exaggerating a little bit, but you get the point ). Aice Ice Cream company certainly makes incredibly sweet ice cream to taste, and a sour story to tell.

The vice city regent of Sangihe, Helmud Hontong was also suspiciously passed away during a plane trip due to coughing blood, with no additional information being public, despite not having any known symptoms of sickness before the flight. Mr. Hontong famously rejected a gold mining effort to the city of Sangihe, for the best interest of the people, the endemic animals, and all the life within it. Sadly, after his death, the city regent revoked the proposal and accepted the offer, stooping down as low as accepting a mere Rp.5.000 for every acre of land sold. That’s less than a dollar! In a business where an acre of land worth less than a printer ink and produces trucks and trucks of gold worth more than my entire family’s wealth certainly raises some eyebrows.

I just think personally ( and this is purely my opinion ), it’s just unfair. It’s the same labor and the same worktime, but some get more…way way more. I do acknowledge your leverage, your highest form of education, your connections at the high places and all that you can bring to the table — but as you rack up your millions upon millions, the other management and the board of directors are busy messaging their finance man to further cut down the cost, to trim down every living wage and to squeeze every penny there is…it just doesn’t sit right with me. But things have always been like this and will probably continue to be like this in the future. So, will I also became another pawn in this chess game of who’s-the-richest?

You bet your ass I am. And chances, you too. Almost all of you.