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Some 1,300 shoemakers demonstrate at House

Jakarta Post - September 24, 1997

Jakarta – More than 1,300 workers at two shoe factories in North Jakarta went on strike yesterday and demonstrated at the House of Representatives, demanding welfare improvements. The strikers, mostly female employees of PT Sindoll Pratama and its subsidiary PI Mega Beta Pertiwi, both located on J1. Kapuk Muara arrived at the House at about 9 a.m.

As none of the House members were willing to meet the workers, the protesters decided to go to the Ministry of Manpower. However they refused to go in trucks provided by the police and military.

Security officers, angered by the refusal, lashed out with rattan sticks. Ten protesters were arrested and taken to the City Police Headquarters and the Jakarta Military Command for questioning. The remaining strikers were then forced to get into the police trucks, which took them to the Ministry of Manpower.

At the ministry, the protesters, caried banners and posters, sat down in front of the building. They rejected an offer by officials to meet with their representatives, saying that all employees wanted to hear the discussion. They also asked the officials to summon the companies' owner, whom they identified as A Fen.

One of the protesters, Catur said the companies had cut their salaries "for tax reasons". "But our salaries are the minimum wage of Rp 5,700 a day," said Catur, which is well below the minimum tax-paying salary.

Ministry of Finance Decree No. 29/1994 states that workers earning less than Rp 14,400 (US$4.75) per day are exempt from paying income tax. He said the companies also cut salaries to pay for workers' social insurance, or Jamsostek, but none of the employees had ever received Jamsostek membership cards.

He said the strikers also demanded overtime pay, meal and transportation allowances, and detailed descriptions of their salary.

Ministry official Iskandar asked the protesters to leave the ministry compound and promised to discuss their demands with the companies' management. But the employees insisted on staying in the ministry compound until the evening hoping in vain for action to be taken.