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.”