At the PT Tuntex factory in Tangerang, Banten migrant workers spend from early morning to late evening for low pay making replica team shirts already selling in wealthy Western countries for up to $80 each. By contrast, their share of the World Cup bonanza making the shirts for Adidas, Nike, and Nike subsidiary Umbro is a wage of as little as Rp 23,000 ($2.50) a day. Unions argue that the amount is not enough to be considered a living wage. About 2,000 women work in the factory, which turns out the official England replica shirts and shirts to be worn by fans of other teams competing in the 2010 tournament in South Africa. The workers would have to toil for nearly a full month at their basic rates of pay to afford just one of the best-selling England team shirts they make.
An article on the working conditions of factories producing replica soccer jerseys for international teams was recently published by Deutsche Press Agentur and appeared in The Jakarta Globe. As a spokesperson for KASBI (Kongres Aliansi Serikat Buruh Indonesia) points out, the international branding of the product offers an unusual point of leverage for the workers of PT Tuntex, the possibility of bringing international pressure to bear on the brand names they are producing.
In a recent post, I wondered aloud about the effect of decentralization on labor’s ability to push for increases in the minimum wages, which are set by tripartitie bodies at the provincial and district levels. This exact issues was mentioned by the head of Kongres Serikat Pekerja Indonesia (KSPI) in this Jakarta Post article:
Chairman of the Confederation of Indonesian Workers Union (KSPI) Thamrin Mossie said the decentratilization program under the guise of regional autonomy has cut the links between labor unions and workers. “After losing their close link to laborers in the field, most unionists apponited in regional councils fixing the regional minimum wages are representing company-level trade unions, instead of national labor unions,” he said.
Inside Indonesia has this feature on Fauzi Abdullah, long time labor activist who recently passed away.
Fauzi never lectured workers – he met them on their own terms, always ready to learn from their experiences. This approach set him apart from many other well-meaning friends of the labour movement. Within LBH Jakarta, Fauzi’s approach was unique because it focused on organising rather than on more traditional forms of legal assistance. To his mind, legal aid should not only be a service that a group of lawyers bestows upon the poor – he believed that justice was not a gift, but rather a right. In the early years, Fauzi was often criticised by his lawyer colleagues for his familiar manner with workers, choosing to sit on a mat on the floor, smoking and drinking coffee with them as he heard their stories rather than sitting behind a desk. His methods proved to be effective, and came to be a cornerstone of LBH’s strategy on labour.
[Update 12/9]: Another article on Fauzi Abdullah in The Jakarta Post.