Workers at a Nescafe factory in Panjang have won an important victory, gaining union recognition and bargaining rights after a three year campaign, which I have posted about a number of times already. You can read about the victory below:
A settlement has been agreed which brings recognition and bargaining rights to the IUF-affiliated SBNIP at the Nescafé factory in Panjang, Indonesia.
The agreement, which was initialed by the IUF and Nestlé corporate management on March 28 and signed by the union and local Nestlé management on March 31, sets the stage for the SBNIP to bargain the Panjang workers’ collective agreement including the wage bargaining which Nestlé management had been steadfastly rejecting for years.
In the course of their 3-year struggle for recognition and full bargaining rights, the SBNIP stood up to harassment and systematic pressure on leaders and members. They received support in many forms from IUF members around the world through the Nespressure campaign actions.
For those of you who follow news on Indonesia, you have probably already heard about the recently published wikileaks documents which implicate President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and his family in a number of corrupt practices. If you have not, you can read more about this story here.
The story has drawn a lot of reactions and discussion in Indonesia, including an interesting response from the union representing public sector workers. This Jakarta Post article explains:
The state-owned enterprises labor union (FSP BUMN Bersatu) has announced plans to file a lawsuit against two Australian newspapers, The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald, at Central Jakarta District Court on Tuesday, following their publication of articles citing allegations of corrupt practices by Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.
“The reports of the two Australian newspapers really insult the dignity of the Indonesian nation,” labor union spokesman Trisasono , said in a statement on Monday.
The article is short, so it does not go into much detail about what is motivating the lawsuit, but it would be interesting to know how private sector unions view this kind of campaign and whether this is suggestive the different political interests that often come with public sector unions.
According to the Democratic Voice of Burma website, 1,500 workers at the Taiyi shoe factory in Rangoon have been on strike for four days, demanding a raise from $.70 USD per 12 hour day to $.96 USD per 12 hour day. This comes on the heels of previous strikes in the garment industry last month in which 700 workers in Rangoon gained improved working conditions.
The DVB article also provides some context:
And just over a year ago a series of workers’ strikes rocked factories in Rangoon, and led to calls for stronger labour union laws in Burma. That may soon be realised, given a recent announcement that a new Trade Union Act has been drafted.
Unions have been legally allowed in Burma, although a clause in the 2008 constitution states that their formation is conditioned on not being “contrary to the laws enacted for [Burma’s] security, prevalence of law and order, community peace and tranquillity, or public order and morality”. The subsequent definitions for these criteria are vague.
More than 30 labour activists, including eight female members of the Federation of Trade Unions Burma (FTUB), are imprisoned in Burma out of a total of more than 2,150 political prisoners. Perceived dissent in Burma is often punished by lengthy jail terms.
From The Jakarta Post‘s report on the potential for ASEAN leaders to discuss migrant worker issues in upcoming meetings and their lack of progress thus far:
Negotiations on the draft of the ASEAN Framework Instrument on the Protection and Promotion of the Rights of Migrant Workers have stalled since a meeting in Kuala Lumpur in December in 2009. The two biggest worker-receiving countries — Malaysia and Singapore — have been at loggerheads with
the two largest migrant worker providers — Indonesia and the Philippines.
Malaysia and Singapore opposed the legally binding concept of the framework and standards of protection of undocumented migrant workers on a human rights basis. Malaysia and Singapore have made another proposal to contest the draft proposed by Indonesia and the Philippines despite the fact that the first draft had already taken into consideration submissions from the opposing countries.
According to a recent announcement by the Ministry of Manpower and Transmigration, only 8 of Indonesia’s 33 provinces have provincial minimum wages that fulfill the requirements for a “living wage.” Those provinces are North Sulawesi, North Sumatera, South Kalimantan, Central Kalimantan, South Sulawesi, Bengkulu, DI Yogyakarta and Jambi.
The Minister of Manpower and Transmigration, Muhaimin Iskandar, suggested that wages that provide a living wage could be negotiated between unions and employers. He also suggested that the provincial minimum wages should be seen as a social safety net providing a floor for wages and not as a benchmark for industry wages, which is still often the case in Indonesia.