Thu, 25 Mar 1999

Workers denaunce military involvement in labor matters

JAKARTA (JP): About 150 workers from two Tangerang firms protested at the Ministry of Manpower on Wednesday, demanding the military keep out of labor matters.

About 80 of the protesters are employees of garment manufacturing company PT Tae Yung Indonesia. The others are workers of PT Tri Pacific Electrindo.

Tae Yung Indonesia's workers denounced the military presence in their workplace and the company's dormitories early this month. They are members of the Federation of Independent Trade Unions (Sesbugar).

They said in a statement the military was called in by Tae Yung Indonesia to intimidate workers from joining the union.

Melly claimed the company transferred 11 workers who were Sesbugar board members to its other factory in Cibinong, southeast of here.

"The transfer was intended mainly to discourage and separate them from their supporters in the company," she said.

"Their removal was conducted because the company did not agree with the establishment of Sesbugar. This was also aimed at restricting the federation's activities."

Protesters also urged manpower minister Fahmi Idris to use his influence to compel the company's management to return the Sesbugar board members to the Tangerang factory.

They called on the company to desist from restricting the federation's activities, and to allow workers to form trade unions to defend their interests.

Twelve representatives of Sesbugar requested a meeting with Samidi, the director of industrial relations, but he was abroad.

Wearing white headbands, the protesters sat and chatted when the protest began at 8 a.m.

The 70 workers of Tri Pacific Electrindo also protested the military presence in their workplace in Tangerang on March 20.

Soldiers entered the factory site without any prior explanation and disturbed the factory's production process, the workers said in a statement.

They also demanded the company raise their wages commensurate with skyrocketing prices of daily necessities, stop worker dismissals and allow them to form labor organizations.

Protest coordinator Sofyan Hadi said they would continue protesting at the ministry until the company and the ministry met their demands.

Meanwhile, about 100 workers of furniture company PT Inatai Golden Furniture also protested at their factory complex in Cilincing, North Jakarta, for improvement of their welfare.

Workers walked around the complex, site of six buildings, to encourage other workers to join them, said Eko Handoko, a protest coordinator.

Among their demands were the provision of a daily meal allowance of Rp 3,000, transportation coverage of Rp 2,000 and abolition of the contract system.

Workers also wanted the company to provide each night-shift worker with two cans of milk per week.

"Employees who work the night shift need extra nutrients," Eko said. (01)