Monthly Archives: May 2010

PT Sumi Indo Wiring System Workers Demand Freedom To Choose New Union

According to reports from Kompas and Pikiran Rakyat, hundreds a workers demonstrated outside PT Sumi Indo Wiring System in Purwakarta, West Java, after the company dismissed and suspended workers in retaliation for organizing activities.  Workers are currently attempting to organize the factory with Federasi Serikat Pekerja Metal Indonesia (FSPMI) and see these dismissals as retaliation for attempts by workers to independently choose a new union.  The demonstrators demanded that the workers be reinstated, with back pay, and that the company no longer interfere with their right to choose a new union.

The company emphasizes that the workers are already organized, under the more conservative and less confrontational Konfederasi Serikat Pekerja Seluruh Indonesia (All-Indonesia Union of Workers – KSPSI), and claims that the workers were not dismissed for organizing a new union, but rather for using company letterhead to distribute information about FSPMI.

Hopefully the press will continue to follow this campaign, which could serve as an interesting case in the dynamics of union competition in Indonesia.  To give the competition some historical context, KSPSI was the only legal trade union under the New Order regime.  Despite being discredited as an organization controlled by the regime and friendly to employers, KSPSI has continued to be one of the most influential trade unions a decade into the reformasi era and the fall of Suharto.  For an in-depth analysis of how KSPSI has managed to retain its influence, I would refer you to Teri Caraway’s article “Explaining the Dominance of Legacy Unions in New Democracies: Comparative Insights From Indonesia.”

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Garment, Food Workers Announce Successful Campaigns

Two successful campaign announcements were made today.

In the food industry, the IUF-affiliated Kirin Miwon Foods Workers’ Union (SPKMF) reached an agreement with management which won them the right to bargain wages for the first time.  The victory came after two months of negotiating that began with management refusing to bargain over wages.  As the IUF puts it, “The fight for the right to negotiate wages at Kirin Miwon is symbolic of many industrial struggles throughout Indonesia, where workers are systematically denied the right to bargain wages.”

In the garment industry, after over three years of campaigning, workers at PT Mulia Knitting Factory have won the right to unionize and will be affiliating with Gabungan Serikat Buruh Independen (GSBI).  This was assisted by the Clean Clothes Campaign and it appears that a key part of the victory was leverage through pressuring international buyers, namely Tommy Hilfiger and Polo Ralph Lauren, in order to pressure local management.  You can read the full announcement here.

Female Workers Go Into Trance In West Java

Would like to know more about this brief story in The Jakarta Post about over 100 workers falling into a trance in Garut, West Java:

Over 100 female employees of an artificial eyelash maker in the West Java town of Garut fell into a trance on Wednesday, forcing the management to bring production to a halt.

The rare incident took place just after the workers of PT Surya Garut Indah were about to return to work after a lunch break. Quoting a security guard, Antara reported that one worker fell into the trance, which quickly spread to others.

“They became enraged with their eyes turning red, while screaming and uttering unclear words,” security guard Nurodin said.

It took a spiritual healer over one hour to help the workers regain their consciousness, Nurodin added. The management then asked all the workers to go home to prevent the incident from recurring.

The spiritual healer, Junaedi, said a number of workers had resisted his attempt to cure them. Some of them spitted on him, he added.

He said the cause of the trance remained unclear.

Port Workers Declare New Labor Federation: Trans Union Federation (TRUF)

Okezone is reporting the creation of a new labor federation representing port workers, the Trans Union Federation (TRUF).  The new federation is made up of five previously independent unions from the Jakarta International Container Terminal (JICT), Terminal Peti Kemas (TPK) Koja, Angutan Pelabuhan Indonesia (API), Rumah Sakit Pelabuhan (RSP), and Terminal Peti Kemas Surabaya.  The new federation claims 7,500 members and is Indonesia’s 84th labor federation.

RI Seafarers Condemn Union Oppression In Iran

We are deeply concerned with the critical political condition in Iran and condemn repressive actions taken by Iranian President Ahmadinejad’s authoritarian regime against education and labor unionists fighting for freedom and true democracy in that country…As a predominantly Muslim country, Indonesia should intensify its diplomatic approach to pressurize the Iranian government to release unionists sent to jail without any trial before the court.

Hanafi Rustandi, Chairman of the Indonesian Seafarers’ Association (KPI) and Chair of the Asia-Pacific International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF), quoted in The Jakarta Post.

First Lady Visits Human Trafficking Victims

Be patient and have hope that your problems will be solved very soon…I will make sure that the President and the manpower and transmigration minister handle this issue properly and immediately.

First Lady Kristiani Herawati, to a group of 40 migrant workers at a shelter for victims of human trafficking (Jakarta Post)

Legal Victory For Metalworkers in Bekasi

From the International Metalworkers’ Federation (IMF) on a legal victory that gained compensation for 300 Federasi Serikat Pekerja Metal Indonesia (FSPMI) workers who have been locked out since October 2008:

IMF affiliate FSPMI won a major court battle on May 14, which is unprecedented in an industrial dispute, involving PT Kymco Lippo Motor Indonesia, located in Bekasi, Indonesia. The Special Regional Court ruled in favour of the workers by declaring the company bankrupt (insolvent) and ordered that the movable and immovable assets including land and building be auctioned of and the workers paid their due compensation from the proceeds of the sales of these assets.

…In October 2008 the company ceased operation and since then more than 300 workers have been locked out and abruptly dismissed from employment. The company’s problem arose due to internal shareholder conflicts that affected the company’s business operation and forced its closure.

The FSPMI, whilst keeping the struggle going on since 2008, also embarked on a series of legal battles. The 300 workers who are members of the FSPMI took turns to keep daily vigils inside the company premises, in order to prevent any possible attempts by the local shareholder or other creditors from removing the movable assets of the company.

Said Iqbal, President of FSPMI, lamented that he has mixed feelings about the victory in the courts. He said that while the FSPMI succeeded in declaring the company insolvent and obtained an order to dispose of the assets of the company, the local share holder might mount an appeal to the higher courts. The FSPMI will fight them at every level, he assured.