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“Hidup Buruh!” say Indonesian cement unions fighting for workers’ rights

13 February, 201640 union leaders representing workers of LafargeHolcim and Indocement (HeidelbergCement) in Indonesia stand up for workers’ rights in both groups. The union activists are adamant in strengthening their unions’ organizing efforts and include also outsourced and contract workers in a strong trade union movement in the cement sector in Indonesia.

The union representatives from IndustriALL affiliate (FSP ISI) gathered for a two day workshop on 10 and 11 February in Bogor, Indonesia. They had an intense programme covering the interests of workers at both LafargeHolcim and Indocement (Indonesian subsidiary of HeidelbergCement) in Indonesia.

Indocement and LafargeHolcim alone cover approximately 50 per cent of the Indonesian cement market. At the meeting the trade union leaders from the majority of plants of both cement groups in Indonesia discussed the current and future situation in the domestic cement market.

In 2015 due to numerous concerns raised by the workers and their unions prior and after the merger of two biggest world cement producers Lafarge and Holcim, as well as an insufficient level of dialogue with the management, global unions IndustriALL and BWI jointly with European Federation EFBWW launched the  campaign “LafargeHolcim, Respect workers’ rights!”. During the workshop participants of the meeting also discussed further plans on activities and actions of the Indonesian unions as part of the global campaign.

Activists of Indocement union also discussed consequences of the announced acquisition by HeidelbergCement group of Italcementi Group announced at the end of July 2015. Workers there also demand a proper social dialogue in their company, not only on a local, but also on a global level.

The CEO of Indocement and director of the Bogor-Holcim cement plant met the participants and shared views on the situation in the Indonesian cement market and corporate and social policies of their respective companies. An Indonesian government representative also attended the workshop and answered questions of the participants regarding specific regulations of the national labour legislation in Indonesia, especially related to possible layoffs. Participants finally discussed via telephone conference with LafargeHolcim’s Head of Labour Relations and Social Affairs, Feliciano Gonzalez, and expressed their concerns and demands.

At the end of the workshop, the trade union leaders unanimously adopted an ambitious work plan for the next years, including a unification of cement trade unions, the drive for a joint collective bargaining agreement that includes contract workers and an intensification of organizing and recruiting efforts.

Matthias Hartwich, IndustriALL director, said: “This workshop was a source of inspiration and energy not only for the present trade union leaders, but will also help to improve living and working conditions for cement workers in Indonesia: Hidup Buruh! – This means: Long live workers’ movement. I am confident that our Indonesian brothers and sisters will successfully implement their action plan; IndustriALL will support them wherever possible and necessary.”