Thu, 13 Oct 1994

Garment factory workers stage strike

JAKARTA (JP): Dozens of employees of PT Agung Busana Jaya, a garment factory on Jl. Sinar Budi, North Jakarta, continued their strike yesterday following the refusal of the company's management for negotiations over a labor dispute.

"We'll go on striking if the company doesn't fulfill our demands," said Susi Rahayu, 19, the spokeswoman for the strikers. Workers began their strike last Monday.

Clad in their light blue uniforms, the strikers waved posters and a banner which read: "Hello boss, please respect the Indonesian law" and "Workers of ABJ demand better payment."

Susi said the strikers demanded their employers give them a daily transport and food allowance of Rp 2,000 and to administer the social insurance.

"They already pay the standard minimum wage, but it is not enough for living in Jakarta," Susi said.

Yuzhar Tayang and Suresh Melwani, the president and production manager of PT Agung Busana Jaya respectively told The Jakarta Post yesterday that the strikers did not represent the majority of the employees working in the company.

He said less than 50 of the 460 workers of PT Agung Busana Jaya were involved in the strike.

"We negotiated with another group last year. The result was not accepted by this group. Which group should we talk to?" he said, admitting the company still has no trade union.

The Indonesian government rules every company employing more than 25 workers must help the workers establish a state-sponsored union.

Forced to work

Susi claimed her group could get majority support if foremen do not forcibly grab striking workers and make them go back to the production line.

"They also come at night and terrorize their colleagues into participating in the protest," said Suresh.

Yuzhar also considered the strike unethical because they staged it without trying to discuss the problem with management.

"We cannot discuss it with management because other co-workers have tried already and they were dismissed," said Mulyani, 20, another striker, referring to a few labor activists who were fired from the company.

Mulyani also questioned management's handling of menstruation leave. She said management makes it difficult for female workers to take the two-day leave.

"We are asked to be present on the first day and sometimes have to work. We practically only get one day leave," she said.

Suresh responded that the workers had abused the two-day leave to avoid having to redo incorrect work.

"We are in a rush to export our products which makes us hire other workers to do the repair work," he added.

Mulyani admitted a fellow laborer had behaved in this manner, "But you cannot punish everyone because of one person's behavior." (09)