Mixed reaction to tempeh producers’ strike
Paper Edition | Page: 9
Although the association of tofu and tempeh producers will stop production from July 25 to 27 as a protest against soaring soybean prices, some of the producers in Jakarta had already suspended business on Tuesday.
Carido and Parkun, both tofu producers in Mampang Prapatan, South Jakarta, stopped production on Tuesday “to teach a lesson to consumers who have complained about the rising prices”.
They usually produce tofu from 5 tons of soybeans daily, but due to the price surge they had to make do with 4 tons of soybeans.
“[Consumers] should understand that we producers have to deal with the soaring price of soybeans,” Carido said, adding that he still had to pay his workers’ daily wages despite the production halt.
In normal days, both producers pay each their workers Rp 50,000 (US$4.5) per day, but during the strike they will pay them Rp 20,000 per day.
“The workers have asked me to give them money because they plan to go back home to East Java during the three-day strike. I’m a bit anxious they won’t be coming back afterwards,” Carido said.
They said they joined the strike organized by the Indonesian Tofu and Tempe Cooperative (KOPTI) as a show of solidarity among producers.
As for those who refused to join the strike, Ghozali, a tempeh producer in Jl. Haji Ung, Kemayoran, Central Jakarta, alleged that the Jakarta chapter of KOPTI sent a mob to storm his house and destroy his production facilities late on Monday.
“I received a letter apparently from KOPTI on Sunday, asking me to stop the production of tempeh as a form of peaceful protest,” he said in his house on Tuesday.
“This is a democratic country, and KOPTI doesn’t have the authority to force us to stop production. If we buy soybeans from the cooperative then it can tell us what to do,” said Ghozali, who is also a member of the board of advisors of KOPTI. “But it hasn’t been distributing soybeans to its members since the government stopped subsidizing soybeans.”
He added that the mob had caused Rp 2 million worth of damage to his production facilities, although it was “nothing compared to the emotional cost”.
Another tempeh producer, Sukirno, 40, also received a visit from the same mob last night. He alleged that the mob stormed his house in Jl. Cempaka Wangi, Kemayoran.
“This is a form of anarchy and the last time I checked, our country was still a country based on law,” he said bitterly. “KOPTI might ask me to stop production, but who’s going to pay for my wife and sons’ needs?”
Some food vendors at stalls in the vicinity of the market also acknowledged the strike and were prepared for it.
Sarto, for example, said that his wife had told him about the strike early on Tuesday after she went to the market to buy tofu and tempeh.
“But what can we do? At least the striking vendors are only tofu and tempeh sellers,” he said.
Mbah Udin, a 68-year-old fried snack seller, also said that she had been told by vendors at the market about the strike since Monday, so she had stockpiled raw tofu to be fried and sold during the strike.
“I usually only buy cooked tofu, but since I heard about the planned strike, I decided to buy raw tofu to be cooked later in readiness for the strike,” she said. (aml/han)
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