Monthly Archives: August 2011

Deadline Looms at Freeport, Workers May Strike Again

From Reuters:

Workers at Freeport McMoRan Copper & Gold’s Grasberg mine in Indonesia plan to stage a strike in coming days after talks with the company failed to resolve a pay dispute , a move that could tighten global copper supplies and lift prices.

A strike would be the second in two months at Grasberg, the world’s third biggest copper mine that also has the biggest gold reserves, after an eight-day stoppage in July caused production losses and helped push copper prices to three-month highs.

The worker union’s deadline for a pay deal was Friday, though a Freeport spokesman said the U.S. firm still hoped to extend the talks to avoid another strike.

“The talks are deadlocked. The gap between what we wanted and what the company offered was enormous. They think a bonus is considered a rise, for us a pay rise is a pay rise,” union official Virgo Solossa told Reuters.


Grand Aquila Campaign & the Right to Organize

Here’s a link to an article I have written for Inside Indonesia on the organizing campaign at the Hotel Grand Aquila in Bandung by Federasi Serikat Pekerja Mandiri.

If you don’t have time to read the full article, here’s the main takeaway:

For some, the long-running campaign at the Grand Aquila has exemplified Indonesian workers’ post-reformasi freedoms. On paper Indonesia has some of the most worker-friendly labour laws in Southeast Asia. But employers continue to resist labour unions and the government appears unwilling to protect workers from violations of their labour rights.

As the labour dispute at the Grand Aquila enters its third year, it illustrates many of the hopes and concerns of Indonesian labour activists. The Grand Aquila workers’ dynamic campaign of street protests, government lobbying and international pressure is indeed an example of what is possible in post-reformasi Indonesia. Yet, when a campaign as vibrant as that of the Grand Aquila workers can make little progress and employers continue to intimidate labour activists with relative impunity, it’s clear that the bar remains high for Indonesian workers who desire a voice in the workplace.

You can find past posts on the Grand Aquila campaign here.

Carrefor Workers Threaten Strike

Workers at the French-based retail chain Carrefor are threatening to strike over the arbitrary firing of one employee.  This from The Jakarta Post:

Thousands employees of retail giant Carrefour, represented by the Congress Alliance of Indonesian Labor Unions (KASBI), say they will go on strike from Aug. 26 to 28, four days before Idul Fitri.  Carrefour employees throughout Greater Jakarta will stage a rally at the company’s head office in Lebak Bulus, South Jakarta.

The thread has been triggered by the dismissal of an employee, Pakpin Sinaga, who was also a member of the Carrefour Indonesia Workers’ Union (SPCI), SPCI chief Imam Setiawan told The Jakarta Post on Thursday.  Imam said the incident began when Pakpin, working in the bazaar division, bought a soft drink with a gift coupon at his workplace in East Jakarta and won first prize, a high-tech water purification device.

“The company interrogated Pakpin, accusing him of cheating by finding out which product contained the first prize.”  Feeling wronged, Pakpin asked KASBI for an advocate, Imam said. “However, the company fired him without explanation.”



Unions at Front of Campaign to Implement Social Security

From the International Metalworkers’ Federation (IMF):

Indonesia’s highest court in a landmark and unprecedented decision found the Indonesian President, Vice President, Head of Parliament and eight Ministers guilty of not implementing the law on Social Security (UU SJSN and RUU BPJS).

After a long drawn struggle to reform the social security system in Indonesia, a coalition of trade unions and non-governmental organisations called Social Security Action Committee (KAJS) led by IMF affiliate the Federasi Serikat Pekerja Metal Indonesia (FSPMI), embarked on seeking legal redress for social security protection for workers in the formal and informal sector….

Said Iqbal, FSPMI President and Chairman of KAJS said that this is a clear victory and that for the first time the courts have made such a courageous decision in favour of working people in Indonesia. He said that this is a milestone for workers struggle for social justice. However, he also expressed caution on what the government might do next.

According to Said Iqbal, the Indonesian President should implement the social security laws and provide social security protection for all people, provide social pension for workers in the formal sector and establish trust fund body to manage the social security funds.

E-Action: Support State Railway Workers’ Union of Thailand (SRUT)

The International Transport Workers Federation (ITF) is calling on international support for the State Railway Workers’ Union of Thailand (SRUT) after a recent court decision that will allow the firing of seven union leaders for their participation in a safety-related work-action back in 2009.  You can learn more about the campaign and send a message in support of the workers.

From the ITF:

The ITF has responded with ‘shock and disbelief’ to today’s Thai Labour Court decision to allow the dismissal of seven leaders of the SRUT railway workers’ trade union for their part in a safety-related industrial action two years ago, and the imposition of a THB15 million fine against them.

The union officials are being punished by the management of the State Railways of Thailand (SRT) for their part in industrial action taken in October 2009 to publicise the deplorable safety failings on the network which led to two derailments and one fatal accident in four days that month. The accident killed seven and injured many others. The driver had had one rest day in the previous 30 days. The driver’s ‘deadman’s handle’ system was not working, and, unbelievably, only 20 per cent of locomotives were even equipped with such a fundamental piece of equipment, according to the union.