Workers at a Nike shoe factory in Indonesia alleged that the factory paid military personnel to intimidate them to work for less than the minimum wage.
In a shocking development on 15 January 2013, ABC News reported that workers at the Nike factory in West Java city of Sukabumi were allegedly intimidated by military personnel to sign a petition supporting the employer’s petition to be exempted from paying the new minimum wage. It is important to note that in 2012 millions of workers protested demanding an increase in minimum wages, social security and for better working conditions. In response to the workers’ protests the government increased wages by 46 per cent to IDR 2.04 million (US$220) from the current IDR 1.4 million (US$145).
However, companies were allowed to apply for exemption from paying new wages by providing information on the company’s financial condition and consent from workers. In this backdrop, the Nike factory at Sukabumi allegedly paid military personnel to intimidate its workers to support their application for exemption from paying new wages. Workers were also told that “inside the factory there were a lot of military intelligence officers”.
Trade unionists and social activists expressed serious concern over involvement of military personnel to intimidate workers.
A subsequent news report in Jakata Globe indicates that Nike has since revoked its application for exemption.