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Indonesia: remember the dead, fight for the living

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29 April, 2024On 28 April, 2024 a commemoration event was held in Morowali, Central Sulawesi, Indonesia to honor 21 workers who died in the furnace explosion at PT Indonesia Tsingshan Stainless Steel (ITSS). IndustriALL Global Union and indonesian affiliates participated.

IndustriALL assistant general secretary Kan Matsuzaki called for a moment of silence to honor workers who lost their lives and injured on the job, and urged participants to continue fighting for the living both at ITSS and the Indonesia Morowali Industrial Park. Highlighting the importance of safeguarding the well-being of workers across the industry, highlighting the need for ongoing efforts to improve workplace safety standards.

“The nickel industry in Indonesia is a fast growing but OSH has been left behind in many workplaces. There is lack of proper education and training, implementation of normative rights, and most importantly, joint OSH committees. We must strive to organize more workers, create strong collective agreements and make workplaces safe for all workers,” 

said Matsuzaki.

He added, on this World Day for Safety and Health at Work, that it is vital to remember that a staggering 3 million workers die every year due to work related causes, and tens of millions more are injured. IndustriALL pledged to support Indonesian affiliates in their campaign for ratification of ILO Convention 155 and Convention 176, defending Indonesian workers’ right to know, right to participate and right to refuse.

In a moving testimony , some unionists recounted their experience witnessing the furnace explosion from the ground. In an act of immense courage, they caught and saved two workers, an Indonesian and a Chinese national, who were falling from a height of 50 metres. They were angry to discover a pile of dead bodies near the furnace operating at 1200 degree Celsius.

“There was no emergency drill for industrial accidents in the plant, the company only organized fire drills. Workers didn’t know how to evacuate and save their lives. We are demanding that the company organizes regular emergency drills to prevent this from happening in the future,”

added the unionists.

Other unionists from the mine site highlighted issues such as violation of safety protocols, they explained that workers were instructed to carry out production and repair activities simultaneously. The workers, who had been transferred from the other company in IMIP, did not know where the evacuation exit was and lost their lives. The lack of adequate ambulances, clinics, and local medical facilities for a site as large as IMIP made the situation worse.