Plantation workers held a strike to protest the company’s arbitrary policy. Source: KBS, 2020
The Palm Oil Labor Coalition:
Jakarta 2 June 2020, a number of workers at PT Suryabumi Tunggal Perkasa-Eagle High Plantation Group in South Kalimantan went on strike to protest the company’s arbitrary decision to pay Religious Holiday Allowance (Tunjangan Hari Raya/ THR) in installments without asking for union’s approval.
Based on circular issued by Ministry of Manpower on May 6th regarding the THR payment during Covid-19 pandemic, the company is required to consult and ask for workers and trade unions approval in deciding the matters.
Taufik Donatan, chairman of the Intan Estate Plantation Workers Union (SPBUN-EHP), said that the company adopted policies without listening to the union’s aspirations. “The company made a policy of paying THR in 8 times installment, from May to December 2020m without asking our approval. In bipartite and tripartite negotiations, the company management stated that the decision was final and there was no room for dialogue with the union,” said Taufik.
“Company policy has ignored the provisions of the law on Religious Holidays (THR) which require a dialogue and union’s approval if there is any delay in the THR payment. We will go on strike until our demands are met by the company. We ask for this year’s THR to be paid twice with a percentage of phase 1 of 70% and phase 2 of 30%,” he added.
Labor researcher Andi Akbar (Trade Union Rights Center/ TURC) asked PT Suryabumi Tunggal Perkasa to hear the aspirations and negotiate with the union. “THR is a company’s annual routine obligation and constitutes workers’ rights. Thereby the company’s statement that the THR will be paid in installments up to 8 times as a final decision without negotiating with the union is an act that overrides the existence of the union and basic labor rights,” said Andi.
Zidane, coordinator of the Palm Oil Labor Coalition (Koalisi Buruh Sawit) said that the situation at PT Suryabumi Tunggal Perkasa was proof of the gross violations of workers’ basic rights in the context of palm oil plantations
“We see the circular letter from the Minister of Manpower that allows the payment of THR is at the the expense of palm oil plantation workers. The Palm Oil Labor Coalition had previously expressed concern that such circular would provide an opportunity for companies not to carry out their obligations, the situation at PT Suryabumi Tunggal Perkasa proved this. The made such decision on the grounds of financial conditions and declining sales, whereas in the first quarter of 2020 based on financial reports reported to the media, PT EHP recorded sales growth of 15.74%,” Zidane added.
The Palm Oil Labor Coalition asks the government to be present and ensures that workers’ aspirations to be fulfilled by the company. “The Kotabaru regency labor agency should have pressured companies to pay THR according to the aspirations of workers. In the tripartite negotiations, the labor agency should show its role in protecting the interests of workers, rather than justifying the company’s decision. We also ask the company not to do layoffs or any retaliation acts against workers who go on strike,” said Zidane.
Tuesday, June 2, 2020
Zidane – Coordinator of Palm Oil Labor Coalition/ Sawit Watch
Taufik – FSPBun Rajawali
Andi Akbar – TURC