Toshiba Indonesia Workers Strike ( Updates )

Dispute at Toshiba Indonesia resolved
After four months of intense struggle, followed by a return to the bargaining table, settlement is reached at Toshiba CPI with the reinstatement of 697 workers, but not the 15 local union leaders.

INDONESIA: The industrial dispute with PT Toshiba Consumer Products Indonesia was finally resolved on August 22 after months of struggle and weeks of intense negotiations.

Toshiba CPI management locked out and dismissed 697 workers, including 15 local union leaders, after the workers, members of IMF Indonesian affiliate the Federasi Serikat Metal Indonesia (FSPMI), went on strike on April 16 in support of a dispute during collective bargaining. At its Congress in May the IMF passed a resolution in full support of FSPMI and Toshiba workers, condemning the company for its total disregard of workers’ rights.

After initial attempts by the IMF and its affiliates to engage the management of the parent company failed, a breakthrough was eventually achieved when a delegation from IMF-JC, Denki-Rengo and Toshiba Japan union arrived in Jakarta on July 23 and persuaded the management to reconvene negotiations in good faith with the union.

Through this initiative the management finally agreed to resolve the dispute with FSPMI through negotiations, which began on the July 23. A memorandum of agreement was signed on August 22 and includes the following points:

a.. All the 697 workers except the local union leaders would be unconditionally reinstated immediately

b.. All the local union leaders would resign from employment and be adequately compensated

c.. A new local union committee would be elected and be entrusted with the task of reconvening collective bargaining for a new collective agreement

The agreement means that Aghni Dhamanyanti, Chairman of the local union and member of the IMF Executive Committee, and Vonny Diananto, Senior Vice President of FSPMI, would lose their employment, along with 13 other union leaders at the plant. Both Vonny and Aghni will continue as officers of FSPMI, including working with the union at the plant to assist the new leadership.

Vonny said that after working for Toshiba for more than twelve years he was compelled by circumstances to sacrifice his job for the sake of other workers who were dismissed. “The fifteen leaders have resigned from the company and they will be paid adequate compensation. Most important is that the union status in this company is restored. If we had prolonged this struggle the company could have replaced the dismissed workers with contract workers because the Labour Court granted such decision in favour of the company,” he explained.

The FSPMI took the strike action after the management of Toshiba CPI refused to register the mutually agreed provisions of the collective agreement. The workers launched a peaceful, legal strike on April this year and the company immediately locked out and dismissed the workers, the majority of them women workers whom have worked since the company since it was established twelve years ago.

In response to the strike the company cancelled the health insurance scheme and stopped wage payments to the workers, which led to severe hardship and suffering among the workers. One of the members died due to inability to seek medical treatment during the strike. The Manpower Ministry ordered the company to immediately reinstate the workers with full wages but the company refused to heed this advice.

The company, in an apparent attempt to seek revenge and punish the union leadership and workers, also filed several criminal charges against union leaders and a law suit for USD 1.6 million damages against the FSPMI for loss of production and business. These charges, and charges brought by the union against the company, have been dropped.

Said Iqbal, FSPMI President, said that though the union fought very hard under extremely difficult conditions the deal reached is the best they could negotiate. “Justice was trampled when the Labour Court decided in favour of the company despite the fact the union launched a legal strike,” he said.

“This TNC does not respect local laws and rules and, to add insult to injury, the Labour Court is corrupt. What choice do we have given this scenario but to accept a compromised settlement?” lamented Iqbal. He thanked the IMF for all the solidarity assistance to highlight the plight of the workers and assist the FSPMI in facing this challenge. He added that without the support of the IMF the workers could not have been reinstated.

In July the IMF set up a strike fund for the workers, to which IMF affiliates generously contributed. With these contributions the FSPMI was able to offer three hot meals per day for the striking workers and their families and pay some of their medical bills.Aug 27, 2009 – Anita Gardner

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