Workers strike, block Apple subcontractor factory in Batam
The Jakarta Post
Some 2,000 workers from PT Amtek Engineering in Batam, Riau Islands province, went on strike as planned on Monday, blocking the main and only entrance to the company's factory. Gathering at the Cammo industrial area from as early as 6:30 a.m., local time, workers only cleared the entrance gate after 10 military personnel used force to make them move away from the gate.
Reportedly, the workers went on strike as a way of demanding clarity with regard to their status following an announcement of the Singaporean company's plan to change its name.
Meanwhile the company, a subcontractor for Apple, gave the government three months to deal with the strike and threatened to move its factory to Vietnam.
PT Amtek, a Singaporean firm, become a subcontractor for Apple after the former bought Interplex, a company based in the US.
The chairman of the All-Indonesia Workers Union (SPSI) PT Amtek working unit, Parulian Simanjuntak, said the name change from PT Amtek to Interplex was actually made in July 2015. Yet, he said, management never talked about the change with the employees.
Quoting Article 163 of Law No. 13/2003 on manpower, Parulian claims that a company is required to pay severance allowances to its employees when a change is made to the company's name and also if a company is acquired by another company.
'PT Amtek did not do that even though the company's logo, email and website have been changed to Interplex,' Parulian said.
He said that the workers rejected the change of the company from PT Amtek into Interplex.
The workers demanded the company dismiss them and give them a severance payment.
Article 163 states that, regarding corporate actions such as a change of name or merger, a severance allowance is to be provided if the employers or employees decide to end the working relationship.
'If the company wants to rehire the workers, it is dependant on both sides,' he added.
Furthermore, Parulian said that the threat to move the factory from Batam to Vietnam was just a bluff and would be impossible to implement.
He also said that there had not been a meeting between the government and the management of the company. 'We talked directly. The government did nothing to fight for our demands,' he said.
He added that the strike would be conducted as planned, until the end of this month. If their demand was not met, the strike would be extended.
A company of military personnel were seen guarding the factory site while the workers continued their strike by sitting in front of the factory.
In July last year, Amtek's parent company, Singapore-based Amtek Engineering, officially changed its name to Interplex Holdings Ltd.
The company said that the change of name was just a strategy to increase the company's brand awareness in the international market and would not change the status of the workers.
Prior to the strike on Monday, Batam Free Trade Zone Authority (BPK FTZ) spokesperson Purnomo Andiantono and director of goods traffic Tri Novianta Putra led an internal meeting with the government in response to the planned strike and the company's threat to move its factory to Vietnam.
They both received repeated calls from the PT Amtek general manager in Singapore, who asked whether the meeting could ensure there would be no more strike.
'PT Amtek's leader was wrathful as they are dealing with orders from their clients. If the strike continues they will not be able to accept the orders,' Purnomo told The Jakarta Post, adding that he could not yet give an assuring answer because the workers planned to continue their strike.
Purnomo said that the strike was rooted in the workers' restlessness over the company's change of name from PT Amtek to Interplex.
He also said that while the company had not actually planned to make any changes, other than in name, the workers worried about their status both now and in the future.
'We are still trying to encourage the workers to stop the strike but they insist on continuing,' Purnomo said.
He also said that PT Amtek, through their lawyer, had informed BPK FTZ that if the workers continued with their strike on Monday, they would inform relevant parties of the closure of their factory in Batam and would move it to Vietnam.
'We are saddened by the situation. The workers should understand that if the factory is shut down they will lose their jobs,' Purnomo said on Monday.
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