The Jakarta Post
Five days after going on strike, hundreds of workers from PT Amtek Engineering in Batam, Riau Islands, finally returned to work on Friday, after the Apple subcontractor agreed to meet the workers' demand to drop a plan to change the company's name.
The strike, which paralyzed the company's operation, concluded after an eight-hour mediation meeting between company executives and workers' representatives on Thursday. The meeting produced six points of agreement, including an agreement that the company would scrap the plan to change the company's name to Interplex.
'Even though some of our demands have not yet been accepted [by the company], we have decided to stop the strike and return to work,' the chairman of the All-Indonesia Workers Union ( SPSI ) PT Amtek working unit, Parulian Simanjuntak, told The Jakarta Post on Friday.
During the meeting, the company's management, according to Parulian, had also promised to scrap sanctions for workers involved in the strike, appoint an Indonesian citizen as its human resource development manager, and reduce foreign worker numbers.
'We will now work as usual. But, we'll closely review how the agreement goes,' he said.
PT Amtek, a Singaporean firm, has been in operation in Batam since 1996, carrying out metal stamping and forming services. It has an investment value of US$60 million.
The company became a subcontractor for California-based multinational technology company Apple after the former bought Interplex, a company based in the US, in July last year.
Soon after the takeover, Amtek's parent company, Singapore-based Amtek Engineering Ltd., officially changed its name to Interplex Holdings Ltd.
PT Amtek was preparing to do the same but the company received opposition from workers who feared that the company's name change would put their service period back to zero.
On Monday morning, hundreds of workers went on strike, blocking the main and only entrance to the company's factory. They threatened to continue to strike until the end of the month.
Batam Regional Legislative Council ( DPRD ) member Uba Ingan Sigalingging, who oversaw the mediation, said his institution would supervise the implementation of agreements made during the mediation.
'The reduction of foreign workers, for example, will become our concern as it is not allowed for a company to employ foreign workers for positions that can actually be handled by local talent,' the councilor said.
Data from the SPSI PT Amtek working unit shows that some 5 percent of the company's 2,000 employees are foreign nationals, with most of them working as supervisors and engineers.
The Batam Free Trade Zone Authority ( BPK FTZ ) chief, Mustofa Widjaja, welcomed the workers' decision to return to work.
'We have been reassuring the owner of PT Amtek, encouraging them to keep their operation in Batam. In the end, both the region and its investors need each other,' he said.
In response to the strike, the company had threatened to move its Batam factory to Vietnam.
Contacted separately, PT Amtek's human resources executive in Batam, Cucu Eva Lestari, confirmed that operation had returned on normal on Friday.
Cucu, however, said she could not comment on whether the company, in the long-term, would keep its operation in Batam following the dispute.
'The question should be asked to the company's owner or lawyer,' Cucu said.