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Metro Tile makers stage protest

Indonesian Observer - January 12, 1999

Jakarta – Some 3,000 workers at a tile factory in Bekasi, east of Jakarta, held a massive protest yesterday to press their demands for Idul Fitri bonus payouts. The workers also demanded that members of the firm's internal cooperative be sacked, because they always "squandered" the obligatory contributions of the staff.

Representatives of the workers said they were afraid that PT Mulia Glass, which is based in Bekasi's Cikarang district, would fail to pay them the equivalent of one month's salary for Idul Fitri.

The demonstration proceeded peacefully, but cautious directors of the firm called the Bekasi Police chief and said they were afraid that staff might destroy the factory, which is one of the biggest producers of ceramics in Indonesia.

The police chief sent 150 officers to the factory at 7:30am, just 30-minutes after the demonstration commenced. The police were later backed up by a strong contingent of military personnel. Locals said the demonstration caused sever traffic congestion on surrounding roads leading to Jakarta.

Bekasi Police Chief Lieutenant Colonel Rustam Ramdja said he hoped that any future demonstrations would also be peaceful, because the factory is worth billions of rupiah. He said the police and military personnel were sent to the factory to take "preventative measures" in case the angry workers decided to run amok.

Once the factory was securely guarded by police and military officials, the firm's board of directors met with the workers. President Director Dodi Priambodo promised to come through with their bonuses, and also pledged to pay the workers for overtime.