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International Solidarity with the Workers' Trade Union in Indonesia PDF Print E-mail

 

altThe Indonesia YCW is reporting that workers who are members of the Workers' Solidarity Struggle Trade Union are continuing their action at a textile factory in Bandung despite intimidation and violence that caused one pregnant worker to lose her baby.

 

The situation faced by workers in a factory in the Bandung region in Indonesia started in 2009 when a group of workers gathered together to discuss the growing problems with their employer. The factory produces clothing articles for renowned European labels, but for its nearly one thousand employees, no decent working conditions and minimum wage are applied.

 

Their main difficulties at the working place include the extremely long working days, large production schemes that must be accomplished, and the lack of job contracts or social security.

 

Following the first meetings and with the help and advice of Indonesia YCW members, the workers decided to form a Trade Union called Workers’ Solidarity Struggle and to start organizing actions in order to improve their working conditions. These actions consisted in negotiating with the employer and the local legal authorities.

 

 

The YCW is supporting these actions through organizing training sessions for the workers where they can learn more about their fundamental rights and the different ways of protesting, as well as improve their knowledge and increase their determination to act. Many of these workers come from difficult backgrounds and know nothing about their labour rights, the way they can organize themselves, or how to obtain a decent salary, a stable contract and social security.

 

After the first negotiations with the firm's representatives took place, a few workers’ demands were met, but still not enough to meet what the local Law on Working Conditions states. To support this action, members of the Indonesia YCW got involved with the workers’ trade union and began organizing monthly meetings, surveys regarding their needs, dreams and expectations, family expenditures, etc., as well as actions together with the trade union movement.

 

In July 2010, the Workers’ Solidarity Struggle representatives and YCW members held a meeting with the company's workers and representatives of other Indonesian trade union or workers’ movements to discuss the current issues and ask for support to sign together a Trade Union Workers' Movement statement. This petition was later transmitted to the Indonesian Labour Ministry, hoping that this will lead to a formal reprimand for that company for not respecting the labour laws and regulations. As a response to the increasing number of actions carried out by Workers’ Solidarity Struggle, the employer started to press the workers to give up their inquiries, and layoffs started to appear.

 

On March 8, 2011 the leaders urged the local parliament in Bandung to meet and discuss the layoffs suffered by the workers in Bandung. At the meeting, the members of the Parliament heard the report of the workers represented by union leaders. The problems they pointed out, among others, included wage level, severance pay, overtime hours and the target system. Up to March 8, 2011 as many as 462 workers had been laid off without due process of law and without severance pay. In the words of Maruli Rajagukguk, an activist from the Jakarta Legal Aid Institute, “They have been unfairly and illegally laid off by their employers after they allied themselves with unions to protest against poor working conditions at their workplaces.”

 

Violent Turn of the Workers' Strike


Since the first lay-offs began, the workers have been carrying out protest action in front of the factory, every day from 7.00 a.m to 5.00 p.m. At the end of May 2011, the police took over the strike area in Bandung and began removing the picketing workers. According to young workers and other witnesses, the police trampled the protesters to force the dissolution of the strike. The Indonesian Young Christian Workers (YCW) movement reported that a pregnant worker lost her baby after being kicked by the police during the confrontation.

 

“Until June 2011 there has been no real action from the authorities both at regional or national level to protect the workers who were laid off unilaterally by the employer in that Bandung factory in Indonesia » wrote Ludovicus Mardiyono, from the International Network for Indonesia YCW.

 

Workers demand to be reinstated in accordance with the Wage and Employment Act. They are planning to sit in in the Labour Minister's office for 3 days and hold conversations with the Minister of Manpower and Transmigration, Mr Muhaimin Iskandar.

 

Call for support is expected from all sides, both politically and financially. We thank all those who send their shouts of indignation to the Indonesian Government and to the employer”, he said.

 

The IYCW would like to express its solidarity with the workers in Bandung. It is so sad to know that a young woman has lost her baby in that situation. We believe that human rights must be respected. When reading reports about what is happening to the workers, we realize that their demands are not uncommon; they are just claiming their legal rights.

 

National and local members of the International YCW have sent solidarity letters to the workers and urged the Indonesian Government to intervene in order to solve this conflict. During the IYCW’s participation at the International Labour Conference in Geneva which took place in June 2011, we also made contact with representatives of the Indonesian Government hoping that the situation can be solved.

 

We would like to call the employer’s and the legal authorities’ attention on the fact that human rights must be the first priority. In the words of our founder, Joseph Cardijn, “A young worker is worth more than all the gold in the world.”

 

If you would like to support that action and show your solidarity with young workers in action worldwide:


IYCW International Team Account: JOC Internationale aisbl
n°: 068 2290840-18; Bank: Dexia; Iban: BE50 0682 2908 4018; BIC: GKCCBEBB

Please specify: Contribution to workers in Indonesia

 

 

 

 

For further information, please see:

Cardijn Foundation news/English

Indonesian newspaper- the Jakarta post/English

Indonesian Tv news-Liputan 6

Indonesia newspaper-tribuna news

Indoensia newspaper–Pirikan Rakyat

Indonesian newspaper-Galamedia

 
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