AICE Workers Continued to Speak Up

10th August 2020, hundreds of AICE workers have once again gathered in front of The National Awakening Party’s Central Board of Directors (DPP PKB) Office and The Ministry of Manpower (Kemnaker) Building. The aim of the protest was to speak up about their demands. The workers refused to be wrongfully dismissed. They saw their Termination of Employment Relationship (PHK) as unfair and one sided. They also demanded the government and the party to resolve the wage and work condition problems in AICE factory.

One of the most crucial problems is 20 miscarriages cases that were happening in the Alpen Food Industry Ltd.’s factory. According to them, there is definitely a direct correlation between these miscarriages and AICE’s poor work condition. Disregarding their pregnancy, pregnant workers still have to work the night shift. This duty is a violation of Bekasi’s District Regional Manpower Regulations.

Pregnant workers confessed they have the same target and workload as everyone. They didn’t get special treatment despite of their pregnancy. A document recorded, pregnant workers still work the night shift, from 6 pm to 11 pm at night.

These problems have been reported to several government institutions, from The Labour Inspector to The Ministry of Manpower. In fact, the workers even did a strike when there was no compromise reached; even though they have negotiated it exhaustively at 5 separate different occasions. The workers have reported these problems to the Ombudsman and the Parliament, but they haven’t responded yet.

At this protest, the workers gathered in front of The National Awakening Party’s Central Board of Directors (DPP PKB) Office. According to them, even though the party had negotiated a lot of labour policies in the legislative body, and also since 2015, the position of Labour Minister had always been filled by the party member, yet the workers all over the country continue to suffer. This protest gathering touched on so many different problems, from workers’ rights violation to the initiation of The Job Creation Bill (part of the Omnibus Bill).

Meanwhile, by protesting in front of The Ministry of Manpower, the workers aim to meet with The Minister of Labour. But the Minister was not willing to meet with them. The workers were standing their ground, occupying the Ministry’s lawn until nightfall. They intended to spend the night there, but the police dismissed them by force. They were sent home using Kopaja bus and accompanied by the police until they reached the toll route entrance leading to Bekasi city.

Fajar Juniarto, one of AICE workers, said that he will never stop expressing his opinion about these problems, no matter how long it takes. The workers also stated that they didn’t care anymore about rulings and policies that were issued by government institutions.

No matter how long it takes, I will continue to furiously voicing AICE workers’ problems. I experienced it myself of how terrible the work condition is in AICE’s factory. A lot of pregnant workers were having miscarriages. Lately, after we were terminated, miscarriage cases were still going on,” stated Fajar.

He also declared that he will not put much hope in government anymore, including in the legal institutions. According to him, charges that were filed by workers in court often times and times again defeated under nonsensical judgments and considerations.

“We are truly felt how unfairly the state treating its workforce,” he told us. He claimed that he is ready if this dispute drags on for years. Even if it will take decades, he is ready. For him, the AICE Company cannot be allowed to operate freely and unethically without consequences. They don’t even have good will and commitment whatsoever to resolve this dispute. Quite the contrary, AICE chose to buy advertisement and hire celebrities to promote their products.

“We learnt from labour struggle in other countries. They didn’t give up, even though the dispute had dragged on for years. The people have to know what exactly that they are consuming and we will tirelessly screeching out ‘Boycott AICE!’” Fajar convinced.

Saiful Anam, Federation of Popular Democratic Labor Union (F-SEDAR) manager, who is also the workers counsel, promise that the federation will continue to oversee this case.

“We will accompany and supervise any workers who will be willing to continue this fight until the end,” stated Saiful.

According to him, the choice to fight this case was decided democratically though a voting process. It was born out of mutual agreement and there was no coercion.

“Then, before we took the first step, there was a voting to decide whether to pursue this case or not, either with legal process, strikes or both. More than 90 percent of workers decided to go on. Some of them didn’t want to participate; they were free to step back. So, we are convinced, no doubt in mind!” he explained.

For him, “Anytime we are needed to counsel this case, F-SEDAR will be there. We will not give up fighting for the workers’ rights!”

Fajar Juniarto, buruh AICE, mengatakan dirinya tidak akan berhenti menyuarakan permasalahan ini sampai kapan pun juga. Buruh tidak peduli lagi dengan keputusan yang dihasilkan oleh lembaga-lembaga pemerintah.

“Sampai kapan pun, saya akan terus menyuarakan permasalahan buruh AICE. Saya merasakan sendiri bagaimana kondisi kerja kami selama di AICE. Banyak buruh yang keguguran. Belakangan setelah kami diPHK, kasus keguguran masih terdengar menimpa buruh perempuan yang masih kerja di dalam,” kata Fajar.

Dia juga mengatakan tidak akan terlalu berharap pada pemerintah lagi, termasuk institusi pengadilan. Menurutnya, buruh seringkali dikalahkan dengan pertimbangan-pertimbangan yang tidak masuk akal.

“Kami merasakan betapa tidak adilnya negara ini dalam memperlakukan buruh,” tuturnya.

Dirinya mengaku siap apabila permasalahan ini berlangsung bertahun-tahun, belasan hingga puluhan tahun. Baginya, AICE tidak bisa dibiarkan bebas begitu saja, karena tidak memiliki iktikad baik untuk menyelesaikan masalah ini dengan pekerja. AICE justru lebih memilih membayar iklan dan selebritis untuk mempromosikan produknya.

“Kami belajar dari perjuangan buruh di negara lain. Berlangsung bertahun-tahun dan tidak menyerah. Masyarakat harus tahu apa yang mereka makan dan kami akan terus suarakan boikotaice,” kata Fajar.

Saiful Anam, pengurus Federasi Serikat Buruh Demokratik Kerakyatan (F-SEDAR) yang juga pendamping pekerja, mengatakan pihak serikat pekerja akan terus mengawal kasus ini.

“Siapapun buruh yang bersedia menjalani perjuangan ini sampai akhir, kita akan kawal terus,” kata Saiful.

Menurutnya, perjuangan buruh AICE diputuskan secara demokratis melalui proses voting, sehingga lahir dari kesepakatan bersama tanpa adanya paksaan.

“Dulu sebelum melangkah, ada pemungutan suara untuk memutuskan apakah akan berjuang dan mogok atau tidak. Lebih dari 90 persen buruh memutuskan lanjut. Beberapa yang tidak mau ikut, sudah dipersilakan mundur. Nah, makanya kami tidak ragu juga,” terangnya.

Baginya, kapan pun waktu yang dibutuhkan untuk mengawal kasus ini, maka F-SEDAR akan mengawal dan tidak menyerah memperjuangkan hak-hak pekerja.

Translated from: Buruh Aice Tidak Akan Berhenti Bersuara

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