Workers at the company Korea Fine Chemical in Tangerang, Indonesia have unionised, fought and won! The workers’ were being paid below minimum wage and were on casual contracts despite working at the plant for years.
Recently the workers formed a union, part of the union federation Progresip-SGBN. The company immediately tried to smash it. Four union leaders were fired. The workers responded strongly. They called a spontaneous strike and mass meeting. On 13 October 2015 they held further strike action and a demonstration outside the factory.
Their struggle has resulted in victory. The 49 union members now have permanent status, the four dismissed workers were reinstated and the workers’ demands for better wages and conditions have been met.
Strengthened by their win, the Korea Fine Chemical workers today joined other unions in a demonstration outside the State Palace to reject the Indonesian government’s plan to change the legislation on wages. Under the proposed changes the minimum wage will be decided every five years and it will be decided by a formula based on inflation, workers’ productivity and GDP. This is a slap in the face to unions who under the current system are part of yearly wage negotiations.
In recent years unions have successfully mobilised to win significant wage rises for workers. But the monthly minimum wage is still below $300. It is unlikely a government shown to side with business will be motivated to significantly increase this figure under the proposed changes. Unions are set to continue demonstrations to reject the proposal.