6 October, 2020When 44 unionized workers at a Goodyear plant in Indonesia were fired this summer, Thai rubber workers rallied to support them, raising money for a solidarity fund.
The Indonesian and Thai unions are part of the IndustriALL Asia-Pacific rubber trade union network, and have experience with regional solidarity. At a network meeting in August, the Thai workers heard that their Indonesian colleagues had been fired from the Goodyear plant in Bogor.
They quickly organized a fund-raising drive, raising US $1,300. The fund was donated to the Indonesian union, FSP-KEP, and will be used to cover the healthcare costs of the dismissed workers and their families. IndustriALL Global Union also contributed to the fund.
The Goodyear union in Indonesia reports that official mediation was conducted over the case. The mediator recommended the reinstatement of the 44 workers. Goodyear management has refused to reinstate them. The case will now go to the Labour Court. As the company is no longer paying the 44 workers, they are not receiving health care from the BPJS social security system. Production continues at the factory as usual.
Iwan Ibnu, the chair of the Goodyear union in Indonesia said:
“On behalf of Goodyear union, we would like to say thank you for the solidarity support from IndustriALL as we received the solidarity from Thailand rubber union as well. It really means a lot to us.
“The 44 dismissed workers are in difficult situation now since the company stop the health insurance coverage for them and their family members. So we will manage the fund support to maintain the health care for dismissed workers and their families.
“Thank you very much, we hope that IndustriALL will always support our struggle.”
Explaining how the Thai workers came to support their Indonesian colleagues, the president of the Rubber Workers’ Union Group of Thailand, Saman Pornprachathum, explained that after hearing about the situation in the meeting convened by IndustriALL, he raised the issue in a monthly meeting of the union federations CILT and PCFT.
Delegates agreed that it was important to show support, and five unions contributed funds.
“Although the amount of money we gave is not large, I believe that it will be enough for them to live comfortably”, he said.
“I encourage all of them. They won’t walk alone. I understand what they felt. I would like Goodyear, Indonesia, to discuss with the 44 laid-offs to look for a way to hire them back.”
IndustriALL director for the rubber sector Tom Grinter said:
“Goodyear’s behaviour has been appalling. It’s unacceptable to dismiss workers without reason, and to leave them without health care in the midst of a pandemic. But the solidarity support from the Thai rubber workers shows that the trade union movement is a global family. We stand with each other in hard times, just as we celebrate our victories together.”