Sat, 09 Dec 2000

Workers strike for fair holiday allowance

JAKARTA (JP): Wood and furniture company PT Wintrad Jaya rejected on Friday its workers' demand for proportional holiday allowances according to their length of employment, and decided to grant an allowance equivalent to each worker's one-month salary.

The management said the company wouldn't allow the workers to resume their duties until they discontinued the demand and are ready to accept the allowance offered.

The dispute began on Wednesday as approximately 1,000 workers staged a protest in front of the company's factory on Jl. Penggilingan in East Jakarta.

The workers demanded the company give them holiday allowances in proportion with their length of service, citing that workers who have been employed by the company for between one and three years should receive a one-month-salary allowance, those employed for periods between three and six years should recieve a two- month-salary allowance, and so forth.

Workers at the company each receive a monthly wage of Rp 344,000 (US$36) regardless of their length of service.

But the protest turned violent on Thursday as the company distributed leaflets stating that it would only pay the one-month-salary holiday allowance for all workers, due to the economic crisis. The workers reacted angrily, vandalizing the company's office.

All windows of the management office were shattered as the workers pelted them with stones. Later on Thursday evening the workers also vandalized, and then set fire, to a Daihatsu Taft parked in the company compound.

It is not certain whether the car was the property of the company.

As of Friday, the situation in the company was calm despite the workers returning to continue their protest in the morning. Dozens of police officers provided tight security.

The workers renewed their call for the proportional allowances, but management insisted that they could not meet the demand.

"Both sides failed to reach an agreement, therefore, the workers said that they would continue their protest until their demands are met," Sutrisno, a security officer of the company, explained.

The protest takes place only two weeks before Christmas and the Idul Fitri celebration, which will fall on Dec. 25 and Dec. 27 respectively.

PT Wintrad Jaya, an export based-furniture company, has operated since 1985 and employs 1,300 workers. (asa)