Appeal to support women workers in Indonesi
We reprint below an appeal from Sherin, an Indonesian worker recently returned from the 2nd international automotive workers conference held from 19.-23.2.20 in South Africa with 700 participants. The conference was organised under the auspices of the International Coordination of Revolutionary Parties and Organisations (ICOR) and the following appeal is taken from the ICOR website. We also include some excerpts from the Jakarta Post on conditions for women at the Aice Ice Cream plant in Indonesia – eds.
Call for Solidarity in Defending AICE Workers
Jakarta, March 7, 2020, Sherin
Soon after I arrived from the 2nd International Automotive Conference, I started a campaign to defend 600 striking workers of AICE ice cream (PT Alpen Food Industry company) on my Twitter https://twitter.com/sherrrinn,
The workers demand wage hike based on the formula of Government Regulation on Wages, non-shift work for pregnant workers and improvement of working conditions in general. My twit about the AICE working conditions was becoming viral and trending on Twitter. As the company’s response, they made clarifications and stated that they will take criminal procedure to address our campaign.
We have negotiated on wages in 2018 and 2019, but there was not any agreement. The strike also held on 20, 21 and 23 December 2019 which is stopped by the workers to follow the mediation at the Bekasi district Labour Office. But the Labour Office decided to not hold the second and third mediations as the Ministry Regulation on Mediation. The mediator directly issued a written recommendation and only accommodated the company’s opinion. This is very unfair, so we have reported the mediator to the chief labour office, Ministry of Manpower and Ombudsman.
We consider the negotiation have completely failed, so we organised a strike again started from February 21, 2020. We also have reported the allegation of labour rights stipulations to the local Labour Inspectorate on November 2019. The examination was just performed on February 17, 2020, making the workers wait for 3 months. In the waiting process, three cases of miscarriages occurred. The inspectorate refused to meet with the pregnant workers and miscarried workers, and the workers realised that the labour inspectorate is not neutral.
We also organised a demonstration and reported the case to the Ministry of Manpower on February 27, 2020. The company clarified to the press and held a press conference on February 28, 2020. The workers came to the press conference to make clarification and reply to the company’s statements.
As a spokesperson of F-SEDAR, I continued to campaign on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook and disseminate our explanations and statements to the press. On March 3, 2020, the Ministry Officials examined the AICE factory since the case has gotten attention from the Minister. But, the officials refused to allow the union leadership to accompany the examining official. They asked us to come to Ministry office the next day. So that’s why we cannot trust this process.
Once again the company made an official statement that they will take criminal procedure against untrue statements (it means our campaign).
In Indonesia, activists are easy to be criminalised with the Electronic Information and Transactions Law of defamation. More than a hundred activists are criminalized by using this law. The maximum criminal charge is 4 years in prison, but usually only 1.5 years in reality.
I have made a statement on March 1, 2020 that I am ready to be processed by the law and I will come by myself to the police station for questioning if the company really reports me. My statement got many responses from activists, friends and public who offered to defend me. I also already have lawyers.
As the retaliation against our strike, the company dismissed 600 workers by disqualifying the workers resign. Currently, I do not worry about the possibility of the defamation criminal case against me, but my concern is about the dismissed workers’ conditions.
I call you, my comrades, to give solidarity to the AICE workers. You can write a petition or short letter to protest the company and give your support to the workers.
Your solidarity letter could be sent to email addresses: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com or directly to my WhatsApp number: +62 877-8801-2740. And we will distribute the letters to the workers and the company.
Jakarta, March 7, 2020
From the Jakarta Post March 5, 2020
Since 2019, there have been 20 cases of fetal deaths in pregnant workers, comprising 14 miscarriages and six stillbirths, at the Singaporean Aice Ice Cream factory in Cikarang, West Java. High workloads, night shifts and poor and dangerous working environments have been asserted as the likely reasons for these deaths.
Around 600 workers of PT Alpen Food Industri (AFI) including 21 pregnant women went on strike from Feb. 21 and will continue striking until March 30. Among the demands were that working conditions, the alleged root cause of multiple fetal deaths in recent years, need to be immediately addressed.
Dina Ratna Sari, 27, had a miscarriage at seven weeks of pregnancy in November. Although her main job was developing reports and stamping boxes, she said, “Lifting is inevitable in every production section and job area”.
She then suffered from bleeding after lifting 25 kilograms of plastic rolls, which then led to a miscarriage....
Another worker Anis Kurniati, 34, said she waited for three weeks before being transferred to a less physically strenuous job during her pregnancy. But even after she moved, the workload was still intense as the task she was given was to fold cardboard into ice cream boxes by matching the machine speed.
“The manager was so controlling that a machine running slower than 128 pieces of ice cream per minute was considered too slow. The speed would only be reduced to 120 or 116 pieces if there was an inspection,” said the 32-weeks-pregnant woman.
Pregnant women working for AFI rotate in all three shifts, including from 3 p.m. to 11 p.m. and 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. Currently, there are 91 pregnant women working at the Aice factory.....
Many pregnant workers reported that the manager — a foreigner — told them “pregnancy was not good for productivity”. Before 2017, any laborer who got pregnant was even asked to resign.