The Jakarta Post
As international sporting goods brand Adidas sponsors the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil, hundreds of workers formerly employed by the company in Jakarta staged a demonstration on Wednesday demanding Adidas and its local contractor pay them severance owed since 2012.
The demonstrators expressed their anger at the Hotel Indonesia traffic circle in Central Jakarta, carrying signs denouncing Adidas and local footwear producer PT Panarub Dwikarya ( PDK ).
The demonstrators were part of more than 300 PDK workers who lost their jobs after joining a five-day strike in 2012.
In October 2012, 1,300 PDK workers went on a strike and protested in front of the factory in Tangerang, Banten, after the company imposed a new policy forcing them to make more shoes during the same working hours. In response, the workers demanded better working conditions and higher salaries in accordance with the regional minimum wage ( UMR ).
The strike went on for five days and PDK responded by giving the workers the option to voluntarily resign and receive a severance of Rp 1.6 million ( US$135 ). More than 300 workers refused to resign and were fired anyway without receiving the severance.
Using this week's opening of the World Cup as momentum, the fired workers gathered once more to stage a protest. They chanted: 'Adidas penindas!' ( Adidas is an oppressor ) and 'Adidas kaya raya, buruh menderita!' ( Adidas is rich, the workers are suffering ).
The head of the Indonesian Labor Association Movement's Textile Union of Garment, Textile and Shoes Workers ( SGBGTS-GSBI ), Kokom Komalawati, said that the union had contacted both PDK and Adidas multiple times but neither company had yet to settle the issue.
Kokom also said that the union demanded Rp 7 billion in severance payments for the more than 300 workers, while PDK offered to pay much less. She added that every Thursday since they were fired, hundreds of workers have demonstrated in front of the PDK plant in Tangerang demanding the payment.
Meanwhile, she said Adidas Indonesia had repeatedly said it did not want to get involved in the dispute and Adidas Headquarters in Germany had not replied to multiple letters sent by the workers.
'If Adidas has enough money to sponsor the 2014 FIFA World Cup, why can't they pay our severance?' she said.
Kokom said the new PDK production standard forced laborers to work harder with a salary lower than the government-set minimum wage, depriving of time to rest, eat or pray lest they miss the target.
'Adidas should have reprimanded PDK, but they didn't. They made billions [of rupiah] while the workers are suffering,' she said.
A former worker who joined the protest, 25-year-old Siti Yuliana, said that PDK had circulated a blacklist with the former workers' names on it to prevent several other manufacturing companies from hiring them.
'It took a long time for me to find another job because many manufacturing companies had my name on a blacklist,' Yuliana said.
Moreover, she, her parents and two younger siblings were evicted from their rented house in Tangerang because she, as the financial backbone of her family, could not pay the rent.
Another protesting former worker, 40-year-old Saridah, said her two children, aged 12 and 16, dropped out of school as she was unable to pay their fees.
She added that she had suffered under the working conditions at PDK.
'I was scared to go to the bathroom. I was scared to eat. If I did, it would reduce my productivity and I would get scolded and abused verbally by my superiors,' she said. ( dwa )