Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Union Activists Imprisoned for Demanding Workers' Rights

Today the Indonesian state has imprisoned two union activists, Abdul Hakam and Agus Budiono. These two activists, from the union KASBI in Gresik, East Java, have been sentenced to gaol for three months for “unpleasant acts” or, in other words, for struggling for workers’ rights.

Their “crime” stems from their involvement in organising outsourced workers at the company PT Petrokimia Gresik. This company has drastically increased its use of outsourced workers. From only employing 200 outsourced workers through 2 companies in 2006, by 2013 the company employed some 900 workers through 11 outsourcing companies. The workers fought back by unionising and demanding that they be paid at least the legal minimum wage.

The company attacked back. In March 2013 there were mass sackings. The workers that remained faced intimidation, bullying and bribery as the company attempted to crush the union. As part of this attack the company reported Abdul Hakam and Agus Budiono to the police. The “unpleasant acts” law is often labelled as rubber because of the way it is used against activists involved in union organising and demonstrations.

The imprisonment of these two activists comes at the same time 26 union activists in Jakarta also face criminalisation. They are facing charges for their involvement in a demonstration against the new wage regulation. Weekly demonstrations are happening in defense of these activists as their court case continues.

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