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Paper union leader is criminalized in Indonesia

29 January, 2013Djody Soegiharto, chairman of the Paper Workers' Union has been fired and accused of defamation when supported workers in their legitimate claims to the company for unpaid wages and benefits.

According to the report received from the Federation of Indonesian Pulp and Paper (FSP2KI), IndustriALL affiliate, the management of the paper company PT Kertas Leces in Probolinggo, East Java terminated the contract of Djody Soegiharto, chairman of the Paper Workers Union SPKL, member of FSP2KI. Soegiharto is also part of the leadership of FSP2KI where he coordinates the department of organizing and recruitment.

On 28 November 2012 management of PT Kertas Leces announced termination of Soegiharto’s contract.  The only reason was his active involvement in protection of workers’ legitimate rights.  In November 2011 the company paid only 50 per cent of wages to its workers and paid only 25 per cent of the agreed education allowances for employees’ children.

At the end of February 2012 Djody Soegiharto displayed banners and billboards inside and outside the factory premises in Kertas Leces company with statements against the company and claims to immediately pay off all arrears in wages and benefits.

In reply, instead of meeting their obligations the company accused the union leader of defamation towards the company and contempt towards its directors. Workers believe it is an attempt at union busting and demand immediate reinstatement of Djody Soegiharto as well as several other SPKL activists earlier laid off by the managing director of Paper Leces company.

The union wrote to the Minister of Manpower and Transmigration of Indonesia, Muhaimin Iskandar and Minister of State-Owned Enterprises, DahlanIskan demanding their attention to the illegitimate suppression of trade union action performed by the company and published an on-line petition. To support Indonesian paper workers in their legitimate claims follow the link: Petition to the Director of Leces Paper company.

In his letter to the director of Leces Paper, IndustriALL General Secretary Jyrki Raina expressed his concerns about the company's attempts to criminalize the legitimate union work and leaders in Indonesia and urged the leadership of the company to take all immediate steps to resolve the conflict and restore justice at Kerta Leces Ltd. Raina called on the company to pay out all the arrears in workers’ wages and benefits, to reinstate Djody Soegiharto as well as other SPKL activists fired earlier and to start negotiations with the union based on principles of good faith and transparency.

PT Kertas Leces company, producing printed writing paper, is the second oldest paper mill in Indonesia with production capacity of 640 tons per day.