Tue, 18 Sep 2001

Seaport workers go on strike

JAKARTA (JP): More than 500 workers of PT Maju Terus Jaya, a container company at Tanjung Priok seaport, North Jakarta, staged a strike demonstration early on Monday in the grounds of the House of Representatives, demanding immediate solutions to labor disputes and a thorough investigation into human rights abuses in the company.

The demonstrators, from Indonesian Solidarity for Workers of Seaport Transportation (SBTPI), parked 16 container vehicles along Jl. Gatot Subroto to attract public attention, causing a heavy traffic jam along the highway between the Semanggi cloverleaf and the Slipi flyover.

While sitting on top of the container vehicles, demonstrators shouted about the unsatisfactory labor conditions and physical abuse of workers in the company.

Mangaldi Aritonang, coordinator of the demonstrators, said they wanted to meet with the House leadership at the presence of the company's management and Minister of Manpower and Transmigration Jacob Nua Wea to seek a fair solution to labor disputes and human rights abuses in the company.

He said the dispute between the workers and the management had occurred because of the company's failure to pay the monthly minimum wage, violations of social security law and the frequent physical abuse of workers in the company.

"A majority of the 1,200 workers, who are employed as container drivers and porters, are paid only around Rp 200,000 per month and are not included in the social security program (Jamsostek). Several workers who have militantly fought for fair payment in line with the minimum wage have been physically abused by soldiers from the Army," he said.

Mangaldi said the workers and the management had on three occasions negotiated on the disputes but Lukman Sutjipto, president of the company, had turned down their demands because they were not considered to be (formal) workers.

The demonstrators also threatened to blockade all routes to the seaport through major strikes in a few days time if the House and the government failed to pay serious attention to their disputes with the management.

"We will stage a major strike to terminate all activities in the seaport if the government and the House do not pay attention to the exploitation of labor and torture of workers in their workplace," said Mangaldi.

Meanwhile, a member of staff of the company, contacted via telephone, declined to comment on the workers' demands, saying the company's president was not available at his office.

"Sorry, I cannot comment on the dispute and unfortunately, the big boss is not available," said the member of staff, who declined to identify himself. (rms)