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FNV trade union award goes to Said Iqbal

16 May, 2013This year’s FNV Febe Elizabeth Velasquez Award went to Indonesian trade union hero Said Iqbal. FNV Mondiaal will also screen the premiere of “Working Class Heroes”, a documentary uncovering the struggles of trade unionists in Indonesia and Colombia.

On 15 May in the presence the newly elected FNV president and Dutch Minister of Trade and Development, the FNV Febe Elisabeth Velasquez Trade Union Right Award was presented to Said Iqbal. Said Iqbal is president of IndustriALL Global Union affiliate the Federation of Indonesian Metal Workers' Union (FSPMI) and also chairman of trade union confederation (KSPI).

Iqbal attracted widespread attention last year when pressure on the Indonesian government from the strategic, large-scale trade union campaign of lobbying, mobilization and action resulted in new legislation on outsourcing enacted on 21 November.

Iqbal mobilized a rally, during which millions of people took to the streets demanding higher wages, a restriction on flexi labour as well as the introduction of statutory social security. As a result, access to health care for the very poorest and a pension for all working people was assured. Said Iqbal is also one of the two central figures in the FNV documentary ‘Working Class Heroes’ which will premiere on 16 May.

FNV Mondiaal and filmmakers Huub Ruijgrok and Arno van Beest will present the documentary ‘Working Class Heroes’ at the Balie in Amsterdam. The film is a dual portrait of trade union leaders, both in Indonesia and in Colombia. The union leaders Said Iqbal and Igor Karel Diaz from IndustriALL affiliated Sintracarbón of Colombia have, for many years and with considerable success, devoted themselves to securing labour rights for their fellow countrymen.

FNV Mondiaal stated, “Thanks to the union leaders, the right to organize and to collective bargaining is beginning to take shape in these countries. In Indonesia, millions of people are taking to the streets and rallying. And in Colombia the largest coal mine closed down for a month”.

On 16 May Dutch Minister stated that she will take the lead among international donors such as the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the World Bank, to improve the working conditions in Bangladesh. She feels the companies should take more responsibility and lack the sense of urgency.
FNV stated in a response: "we are very happy with this news. The FNV thinks it is utmost important trade unions will be involved in the plan. Trade unions have a watchdog function to make sure the sense of urgency leads to concrete action".