Indonesia - American Phillips Seafood Company in Lampung dismisses unfairly and creates fake trade union to obstruct free trade unionism

US-based company Phillips Seafood – with a chain of seafood restaurants on the East Coast, outlets in airports and casinos and which markets processed seafood products – has its largest centre of production in Lampung, Indonesia. During 2015 the Company showed anti-union behaviour on more than an occasion: 205 workers were fired with a text message in order to outsource most of the jobs to isolated private homes working for half the price of regular workers. Out of the 205 fired workers, only 50 were allowed to come back – as casual workers contracted on a daily basis – on condition that they were not trade union members.

In order to further discourage and impede trade unionism inside the enterprise, Phillips Seafood created a fake union and then threatened and harassed workers to join it if they wanted to be called to work. Phillips Seafood then conducted a «union vote», instructing workers to choose between the real union and the newly created management union. Two local labour department officers were brought in to make the proceedings look official. Deliberately misleading workers into believing the verification was legitimate, while making threats about job security, management forced workers to vote on November 25 and 26. A final vote was planned for December 16 and 17, but with the support of the Federation of Lampung Workers’ Unions (FSBL), workers refused to vote. The provincial labour department confirmed that the verification was unlawful because a private company cannot conduct a union vote without oversight. The role of the two labour department officials, and that of Phillips Seafood in the arrangement, is now under investigation.

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