Brussels, 23 September 1997 (ICFTU OnLine): Less than two days after releasing the ten trade unionists arrested on 19 September, the Indonesian authorities have once again demonstrated their policy of anti-union repression by arresting eight trade union activists on Tuesday (September 23) when they were taking part in a demonstration outside the national parliament of more than 1,000 striking workers from two shoe exporting factories.
The eight activists, who belong to the National Committee for the Fight for Democracy, were arrested while trying to encourage workers in the area surrounding the parliament to join in a march to the nearby Department of Labour.
The striking workers from the PT Sindoll and PT Multi Beta Pertiwi factories are demanding higher pay and better working conditions, particularly in terms of food and transport, as well as free medical care. The firms concerned make shoes for Reebok international and Starmont.
Further proof of the often deplorable conditions faced by Indonesian workers in some export industries came when Nike announced on Monday its decision to break off all relations with the four sub-contracted factories which have refused to respect the minimum pay and working conditions demanded by Nike. It is the first time that Nike has ended relations with a sub-contractor which does not respect the code of conduct. Last weekend, the "Global Exchange" watchdog, based in San Francisco, repeated its accusations against Nike, accusing the US multinational of violating its own code of conduct by working with sub-contractors whose factories resemble prison camps, where wages are below the legal minimum and where some workers are only 13 years old. The recent shelving of the inquiry into the murder in 1993 of the young trade unionist Marsinah also says much about workers' rights in Indonesia. Marsinah was found murdered, her body mutilated, several days after organising a strike to demand better working conditions in the factory. The owners, managers and security agents of the factory were charged with involvement in the murder and arrested, but were released due to lack of proof. A DNA test would have been the only means of ascertaining their guilt or innocence, but as the blood samples were no longer valid, the Indonesia police have officially closed the inquiry.
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