Garment workers left hung out to dry

Posted: January 5, 2011 in Indonesia
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A factory stands idle just north of Indonesia’s capital, Jakarta. Your household could well contain a shirt that was made in it: the 600 workers at Mutiara Busana Apparellindo (“Pearl Clothing” or PT MMBA) made clothing for brands including Esprit, Tommy Hilfiger, Polo Ralph Lauren and K-Mart.

Some of the workers were there today, but not working. They were abandoned when the operating company went into receivership, withdrawing its managers and operating finance. However the company did not divest itself of the plant as an asset and the workers have now been staging a sit-in for more than 12 months.

They are owed substantial entitlements including unpaid wages, severance pay and social security payments. The Jakarta-based Trade Union Rights Centre (TURC) has obtained a decision of the Industrial Court that these be paid. However, before that can happen, other claims on the money need to be forgiven.

Amongst those claims is a debt to Nusantara Bonded Zone, the EPZ authority in which the factory is located. The authority has been reluctant to do this; the whole point of a free-trade zone is for companies to operate with minimal regulation and they do not wish to start a precedent that might deter other foreign investors. The continued sit-in, then, is the workers’ insurance that the Nusantara authority will eventually act on the order of the Court.

  • Why not give them some encouragement? You can write to them at All you need to say is “Please allow the PT MMBA workers to be paid the money they are owed” (Don’t worry, they understand English)

Source: ‘Pengusaha Kabur, Buruh Melawan Pemerintah’ Lembur (TURC Newsletter) Nov/Dec 2009

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