Indonesian Bridgestone workers win permanent employment


On 28 December 2012, 997 temporary workers employed at two Bridgestone Tyre plants in Karawang and Bekasi, Indonesia gained permanent employment.

This change in employment status is a major breakthrough in industrial relations in Indonesia and a great victory for IndustriALL Global Union affiliate KEP SPSI, which represents 3,250 Bridgestone workers across the two plants.

The union at Bridgestone has been dealing with the issue of temporary employment since 2008, following its involvement in the Asia and Social Dialogue Project and the Contract and Agency Labour project conducted by ICEM, now IndustriALL Global Union. The union tried to implement the knowledge acquired from the training delivered as part of the projects. According to the national labour legislation, dated to 2003, the use of agency workers on a production line is illegal in Indonesia. However this law was not observed by the company.

Following a series of negotiations in July 2011, the management promised to stop recruiting new agency workers on the production line and started preparations to change the employment status of existing agency workers into permanent positions through social dialogue with the trade union. At the time 200 agency workers gained permanent employment.

Throughout 2012 the union and company continued negotiations, which were bolstered when in November 2012 the Ministry of Manpower issued a decree stating that companies could use agency workers only in five job categories: security, cleaning, catering, assistant work in supporting systems of the mining sector, and transport services.

After reaching agreement in December 2012, 997 short-term contract and agency workers gained permanent positions. These workers received severance payment and their period of employment is to be calculated based on their first day of entering the company. According to the union, there are still 171 workers employed by the company through labour agencies working as drivers and security guards. The union is planning to negotiate for these workers in January 2013.

Precarious work in Indonesia is a nation-wide issue. Thanks to the union struggle and the landmark ruling of the Constitutional Court made in January 2012 that outsourcing work is against workers’ rights, a lot of trade unions in Indonesia have succeeded in changing their members’ temporary jobs into permanent ones.

In a landmark decision on January 17, the Indonesian Constitutional Court, ruled that out-sourcing work is unconstitutional and against workers' rights as enshrined in the Indonesian Constitution.