IUF logo; clicking here returns you to the home page.
Uniting Food, Farm and Hotel Workers World-Wide

Public Threats of Violence Against IUF and Indonesian Sugar Union

Posted to the IUF website 22-Oct-2005

Share this article.

The IUF-affiliated FSPM TG, a federation of independent sugar unions in Indonesia, has been struggling against gross violations of trade union rights by private and public employers and local Manpower Office officials, who are acting in collusion with the Suharto-era yellow unions FSPPP-SPSI and SP BUN in the sugar sector (background).

FSPM TG officers and Hemasari Dharmabumi, the IUF representative in Indonesia, have now been publicly threatened with violence if they persist in organizing sugar workers and continuing to struggle for basic trade union rights.

An anonymous threat entitled �Warning Note� was delivered to Hemasari at the Hotel Novotel Soechi in Medan on August 31 while she was attending an ILO seminar for plantation workers held at that hotel. The note warned the IUF not to organize in agriculture or sugar mill companies "which already have trade unions" and told Hemasari to "go home immediately".

On September 27, an �All Indonesia Sugar Mills Unions Solidarity Forum�, claiming to represent all sugar mills in the state-owned PTPN system as well as privately owned mills (including the Gunung Madu plantation and mill complex, Indonesia's largest, whose management in March fired newly-elected FSPM TG President Daud Sukamto), issued a "statement of position". The statement condemned the IUF for �provocative and dishonest� actions in �hijacking the cadres of other trade unions�, �discrediting the Government of Indonesia and Trade Unions in Indonesia via the internet� and �strongly reminding IUF not to interfere in internal trade union business in Indonesia�. This letter was signed by the Chairpersons of SP BUN unions at PTPN VII, IX, X, and XI, as well as the SP BUN union at the PTPN Marketing Office, the Chairperson of FSPP SPSI and others.

On September 30, SP-BUN PTPN IX General Chairperson Djoko Moeridno, a signatory to the September 27 statement, issued a signed �Statement of Position� which specifically accuses Hemasari and FSPM TG General Secretary Legimin of violating unspecified laws. The statement affirms the willingness of SP BUN PTPN IX to �sacrifice body and soul to oppose the intervention of foreign parties who wish to destroy� the workers of Indonesia and threatens �PHYSICAL ACTION� against Hemasari and Legimin if they do not stop their union work. The threatening statement was circulated throughout the PTPN sugar mills in East and Central Java.

Since October 17, FSPM TG General Secretary Legimin has been followed by two unidentified men, who sit in a car outside his rented room in Surabaya.

Given the history of violence against trade unionists and worker rights advocates in Indonesia, these threats must be taken extremely seriously, and we have called on the authorities to respond immediately.

The IUF has written the Indonesian Manpower Minister to condemn the threats as criminal acts and grave violations of fundamental trade union and democratic rights, pointing out that the public statement signed by SP-BUN PTPN IX General Chairperson Djoko Moeridno on the organization's letterhead, openly threatening "physical action" against IUF members and representatives, has elicited no response on the part of the PTPN management, the local police or other public authorities. We have called on the Manpower Minister to react to these unmistakable threats of violence by publicly condemning them, by taking the necessary measures against the authors of the threats and by launching a full investigation. And we have insisted that the government immediately take all appropriate measures to ensure the safety and wellbeing of FSPM General Secretary Legimin and Hemasari Dharmabumi, for which we hold the government of Indonesia responsible.

The IUF has also written to the Director General of the ILO, requesting his office to intervene as a matter of urgency with the Indonesian authorities along similar lines.

Click here to send a message to the Indonesian government and to sugar employers to support the sugar workers' struggle for trade union rights.