Monthly Archives: June 2018

Workers of Arnott’s Indonesia demand their job back; opposes union-busting scheme and retrenchment

FPBI organized protest against forced retrenchment in front of Arnott’s Factory, June 1st. Photo: FPBI

Arnott’s Indonesia workers’ testimony clearly states that the company does not have any commitment whatsoever to the just and equal treatment. Plant-level union chairperson, Muhardi, gave an example of this attitude when he explained how Arnott’s Indonesia handed employment termination letter to a pregnant worker after she refused to sign voluntary resignation handed by the management.[1]

On June 18, 2018, Arnott’s Indonesia released a statement as a response to FPBI’s statement on the company’s forced to resign to its 320 workers.[2] However, it is unfortunate that this response was not addressed directly either to Asia Transnational Corporation (ATNC) Monitoring Network or to FPBI.[3] Furthermore, this response is only the company’s defence which is in contrary with workers’ testimony.

The company is failed in responding reinstatement demand of the workers who had been forced to resign. The statement that the company is having a decrease in production volume and market share cannot be proven. Muhardi explains that the company’s production is normal. FPBI national leader Rizky, in a meeting added, “The company refused to disclose its financial report so that together with the union, despite the company’s statement that it has been losing for the last four years.”

Arnott’s response bears a lie. The company said that it had a discussion and negotiation with the workers before the management forced the workers to resign. Whereas, based on workers’ testimony there was only a socialization about management’s plan to workers. There was not any space for dialogue in a socialization, which was done first on May 4, 2018. “When we received the invitation letter, there “subject” on the letter was empty,” said Muhardi when he was asked about the socialization.

Arnott’s seems trying to create a good image by stating that the company offered “a generous compensation package which is more favourable than the statutory”. Arnott’s is using the Idul Fitri[4] moment to offer the compensation to workers who had been forced to resign. With Iedul Fitri just around the corner, workers have more pressure to accept the compensation offered to pay their cost to have a family visit to their home province (in Indonesia, known as mudik)

For nine workers who are still struggling to demand of reinstatement, the problem is not just related to the amount of rightful compensation offered. They try to fight back the company’s despotic act. “We want to show that the company cannot just throw away its workers just like that. Therefore, we will keep on fighting and stand with the demand of reinstatement,” said one of Arnott’s workers.

According to Abu Mufakhir, ATNC representative, the case of mass layoffs usually followed by the worsening of the working condition. “After lay off, usually the company would recruit new workers with the employment status of non-regular or contract to replace the permanent workers. The worsening of working condition for example in the form of overtime wage reduction.”

This exactly what happened in Arnott’s Indonesia today. In its response, Arnott’s denied the fact that the company would recruit new workers in the near future. On May 9, 2018, the company released an announcement contained a list of 140 workers who would start working in three shifts on August 1, 2018. Majority of workers listed in the announcement are contract workers who are only hired during peak season.

“There will be open recruitment on August which means the production is normal even toward the high season,” Rizky added.

Company’s announcement contains list of workers who will start working on August 1, 2018. Source: FPBI

Company’s announcement contains list of workers who will start working on August 1, 2018. Source: FPBI

Upon realizing the worsening of the working condition, nine Arnott’s workers who are still struggling will take litigation as well as a non-litigation process for their demand of reinstatement. “We are not fighting for ourselves, but also for our comrades who are still working inside the factory so they will not have to suffer poor working condition. This is our way of fighting against despotism and tyranny,” added Muhardi.

 

Download the ATNC’s request letter to Campbell: Letter to Campbells Soup on Arnotss case

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[1] Complete story could be found in http://majalahsedane.org/siapa-bilang-tidak-bisa-phk-orang-hamil-kita-main-cantik-kok/

[2] https://www.business-humanrights.org/en/indonesia-arnotts-a-subsidiary-of-campbell-soup-company-faces-allegations-of-forcibly-dismissing-workers-company-responds

[3] ATNC has sent a request letter officially to Campbell in May 31th, 2018. The letter was endorsed by 41 organizations in support of the workers’ demand to be reemployed.

[4] Iedul Fitri is a religious holiday celebrated by Muslims worldwide that marks the end of Ramadan, the Islamic holy month of fasting (sawm). In Indonesia, working-class celebrate Idul Fitri by visiting family in the home province.

Against Forced Retrenchment by Arnott’s Indonesia: A Solidarity Statement by ATNC

One of the worst nightmares of being a worker is forced retrenchment. Such case is now happening by workers of Arnott’s Indonesia in Bekasi City. To date, about 300 permanent workers have been fired, including the leaders of the union.

Arnott’s Indonesia is a wholly owned subsidiary of US food and beverage multinational, Campbell Soup Company built in 1869. Arnott’s Indonesia is one of the leading food company that produces well-distributed products such as Goodtimes, Tim Tam, Sticko, and Venesia among others. In 2017, the company gained revenue of $3 billion dollars given the increasing sales globally.

Despite this profit accumulation, the management claimed that the sales have been declining since 2014. Given the internal situation, they have to downsizing the number of workers in the production department. In doing so, the company retrenched the workers by forcefully asking them to take ‘voluntary resignation’.

The company is being not transparent with their claim of having sales declining. When Indonesian Labor Struggle Federation (Federasi Perjuangan Buruh Indonesia/ FPBI) along with FPBI, SPMAI, and KSPSI trade unions was invited in a meeting to be informed about the downsizing of the workers, the company was reluctant to open the company’s financial condition.

The trade union believes that the retrenchment in the name of sales declining is only a cover to sack workers. The reason of retrenchment also contradict with the memo posted by the management announcing that the company will recruit 200 workers in August 2018. The memo also says that the company will install the new machine and the production will be running as usual to meet the export targets.

The company should respect the workers’ rights. As part of Campbell’s supply chain, Arnott’s Indonesia is bounded with Campbell’s ‘Code of Business Conduct and Ethics’. In the code, it is stated that Campbell is committed to promoting equal opportunity. Campbell also aware of being subject to the laws of different countries, including Indonesian Labor Law, Act 13 of 2003. However, given the case, the code is only good on the paper: it is not practically working.

Indonesian Labor Law does not recognize voluntary resignation terms at the request of the company—which is contradictory in nature. In other words, the voluntary resignation has become null and void given the decision is forcibly imposed by the company.

Asia Transnational (ATNC) Monitoring is against arbitrariness and injustice towards workers. We support the demand of the workers who was unfairly sacked by Arnott’s to be re-employed. We urge the company to stop violating workers’ rights and completely comply with Indonesian Labor Law.

31 May 2018

Asian Transnational Corporations Monitoring Network

Endorsed by:

  1. Todd Jailer, author of Workers’ Guide to Health and Safety, United States
  2. Hilda Palmer, UK Hazards Campaign, UK
  3. Kathy Jenkins, European Work Hazards Network
  4. Asia Monitor Resource Centre (AMRC), Hong Kong
  5. Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Union (HKCTU), Hong Kong
  6. Globalization Monitor (GM), Hong Kong
  7. Labor Education and Service Network (LESN), Hong Kong
  8. Workers Empowerment (WE), Hong Kong
  9. Students and Scholars against Corporate Misbehaviour (SACOM), Hong Kong
  10. Apo Leong, Labour Activist, Hong Kong
  11. Sanjiv Pandita, Suisse Solidar, Hong Kong Office
  12. Environics Trust, India
  13. Centre for Workers Education (CWE), India
  14. Workers Initiative Kolkata, India
  15. Peoples Training & Research Centre (PTRC), India
  16. Cambodia Food and Service Workers Federation (CFSWF). Cambodia
  17. Yaung Chi Oo Workers’ Association (YCOWA), Myanmar18. Committee for Asian Women (CAW), Malaysia
  18. Partai Sosialis Malaysia (PSM), Malaysia
  19. Jaringan Rakyat Tertindas (JERIT), Malaysia
  20. Ecumenical Institute for Labour Education and Research (ELIER), Philippines
  21. Centre for Trade Union and Human Right (CTUHR), Philippines
  22. Joy Hernandez, Labour Activist, Philippines
  23. Korean House for International Solidarity (KHIS), Korea
  24. National Free Trade Union (NFTU), Sri Lanka
  25. Ceylon Mercantile Union (CMU), Sri Lanka
  26. Confederation of National Trade Union (KSN), Indonesia
  27. The Indonesian Confederation of United Workers (KPBI), Indonesia
  28. Sedane Labour Resource Centre (LIPS), Indonesia
  29. Konfederasi Persatuan Rakyat Indonesia (KPRI), Indonesia
  30. Partai Rakyat Pekerja (PRP), Indonesia
  31. Patchane Kumnak, Labour Activist, Thailand
  32. Thailand Confederation of Trade Union (TCTU), Thailand
  33. Yokohama Action Research (YAR), Japan
  34. Textile and Garment Workers Federation (TGWF), Bangladesh
  35. Bangladesh Free Trade Union Congress (BFTUC), Bangladesh
  36. Labour at Informal Economy (LIE), Bangladesh
  37. Labour Education Foundation (LEF), Pakistan
  38. Center for Public Health and Environmental Development (CEPHED), Nepal
  39. Scottish Hazzards, Scotland
  40. Van Thu Ha, Labour Activist, Vietnam