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Indonesian cement workers to benefit from OECD settlement

26 May, 2014Indonesian cement workers can look to better future at Indocement/HeidelbergCement after a complaint to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has been settled.

Representatives from IndustriALL Global Union, IndustriALL affiliates Indocement Union (SP-ITP) and the Confederation of Indonesian Trade Unions (CITU-KSPI), and Indocement/HeidelbergCement reached an agreement over a long-lasting conflict which was signed in Berlin, Germany on 21 May under mediation from the German OECD National Contact Point (NCP).

Matthias Hartwich, IndustriALL director, stated:

This agreement opens the door to better cooperation between unions and management in Indocement. But to be clear: this is not the end but the beginning of a cooperation process between the parties. IndustriALL, the German OECD NCP and all participants in the mediation have done their share. Now the local partners in Indocement have the chance and also the duty to bury the old conflicts and come to a new means of cooperation for the sake of the workers.

Relations between company and the union at the Indonesian plant, which is the second largest producer of cement in the country, deteriorated drastically after several incidents stemming from a dispute in 2012 connected to collective bargaining issues. 

As local management at Indocement, which is owned by German parent company HeidelbergCement, had not been willing to solve the conflict, even going as far as supporting anti-union activists, the Indonesian IndustriALL affiliates together with IndustriALL lodged an OECD complaint in May 2013, seeking mediation from the German NCP.

The German NCP insisted on not “judging” the past but rather looking into the future by achieving better cooperation between Indocement and the unions, and helping employees overcome possible scepticism about involvement in a union or possible fears of union membership.

At the same time the signatories agree to “bury the past” and work jointly together for a better outlook for Indocement workers.

The OECD guidelines for multinational companies are binding, even when operating outside the OECD area. If a company violates the guidelines, stakeholders including trade unions, are entitled to lodge a complaint and seek for neutral mediation by OECD NCP.

In this case, the OECD NCP in Germany was in charge of mediation, as Indonesia does not belong to the OECD.

Participants in the Berlin mediation process, which was steered by the German ministry for Economic affairs and assisted by ministry for labour and foreign ministry, included representatives from IndustriALL Indonesian affiliates, IndustriALL Global Union, the HeidelbergCement global HR director and the Indocement HR director.