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Indocement criminalizes union leader in Indonesia

17 January, 2013Cement company PT Indocement Tunggal Prakarsa tries to bust the union and criminalize its leader, Edi Iriawadi, through charges of abuse of power and creating a public disturbance.

On 9 January and 16 January 2013 two court hearings of Edi Iriawadi took place at Cibinong District Court, West Java. The prosecutor accuses the union leader of violating the Indonesian criminal code and demands one year of jail as punishment. The hearing will continue on 22 January 2013.

Hundreds of people from Forum Buruh Bogor attended both hearings. They spoke in front of court demanding the panel of judges release Iriawadi and that the charges be dealt with in an industrial not criminal court. Around 50 police officers from Bogor District Police guarded the court.

Iriawadi is a union leader of Serikat Pekerja Indocement Tunggal Prakarsa (SP ITP), an affiliate of IndustriALL through the Federation of Indonesia Cement Trade unions (FSP ISI) of which Iriawadi is President. Iriawadi was put on trial after PT Indocement Tunggal Prakarsa accused him of abusing by his power by halting production and causing losses to the company.

The company is attempting to bust the union after it successful concluded bargaining in July 2011, which secured workers a 150 per cent gradual hike in wages over three years.

The union organized a series of actions in support of their cause. In reply, a group made of people adjacent to the plant territories instigated by the management said that union actions disturbed public order and blocked public transport in the area.

The group entered the territory of the enterprise and attacked the union office, leaders and members. As a result, three union members were hospitalized and motorbikes owned by union members damaged. Worried for the members and the safety of their private property, Iriawadi asked members to stop production and leave their workplaces.

Indonesia Trade Union Act No 21/2000 guarantees trade union rights. Articles 28 and 43 stipulate that the violation of union rights and union busting is a crime and the violators would be sentenced up to five years in prison.

PT Indocement Tunggal Prakarsa’s major stakeholder is German-based Heidelberg Cement Group. The company has twelve factories located in 3 cities of Indonesia Bogor, Cirebon and Kota Bharu, combined the total capacity reaches about 18.6 million tons a year with profits of more than 5 trillion IDR (US$ 520 million) registered in 2012. The company’s workforce totals 6,300 people.