Victory! Indonesian workers return to work

Twenty-nine (29) workers of the Sumsel 1 PLTU, all members of the SERBUK PT GPEC, have returned to work after they were sent home when their company stopped its operations due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The union marked their members’ return to work as a new chapter of success in their struggle for full trade union rights.   

According to SERBUK, the workers have gone through swab tests and were all declared negative for COVID-19, and fit to go back to work.

SERBUK PT GPEC Chairperson Tajudin said that as many forty-five (45) people are expected to undergo the next phase of the workplace’s quarantine protocol. 

“Due to the limited quarantine places, workers who will undergo quarantine procedures will be arranged by batches and schedules, while ensuring that their wages are paid. After the 14-day quarantine period, the workers will start working again at the PLTU worksite,” Tajudin explained.

Tajudin also said that the union received a letter of direction from the Acting Regent of Muara Enim, stating that quarantine procedures must be adjusted to existing regulations, especially those from the Minister of Health Regulation. He said that any deviation from the said regulations must be negotiated with the union.

Last March, the union went on strike to protest the company’s non-payment of wages and forced leaves enforced to its members. An agreement with the company was reached in August.

On 11 September, SERBUK’s Executive Committee held a social dialogue with PT GPEC company leaders to build a common understanding on ways to foster a good working relationship between workers and the company. The company affirmed its commitment to carry out the agreement and comply with Indonesian regulations. 

SERBUK Secretary General Khamid Istakhori highlighted the importance of this development, which he said was also reported to BWI’s Asia Pacific office.