Indonesia - Union Busting at Honda

Five leaders of the Serikat Buruh Kerakyatan PT. Honda Prospect Motors union (SERBUK HPM) were suspended by the Honda Prospect Motors in Karawang, Indonesia, in April, just a few days after the union had been created at a meeting of more than 3,000 workers. A union already existed at the plant but it was run by the company. Membership was compulsory and the fee was deducted automatically from the workers’ pay each month. The company union never encouraged workers to fight for higher wages, or against dismissals.

By 12 April 2015, the Honda workers had collected membership forms from 2500 workers to form an independent union. The company responded by announcing that membership forms were prohibited from being distributed, and threatened that workers joining would be fired, or reported to the police.

On the 14 April 2015 SERBUK HPM submitted their registration documents to the Krawang District Department of Manpower. The department acknowledged that all requirements for registration had been met but refused to give the union a registration number. The following day it issued a rejection letter, on the grounds that the employees listed were still members of the company union. (They had already issued letters of resignation).

Following the attempt at registration, one of the union leaders, Kerly, was summoned by one of the Honda managers. He was interrogated and threatened with dismissal. During the interrogation, the manager forced open Kerly’s desk drawer and confiscated the union registration forms, including the membership list. Management then began to target workers on this list.

Five workers, the leadership of the new union, were all suspended. These were Kerly, who had worked at Honda for 16 years; Yohanes Masang, who had worked at Honda for 14 years; Lutfi Firmansyah, who had worked at Honda for 16 years; Uut, who had worked at Honda for 12 years; Rizky, who had worked at Honda for 15 years.

They were suspended for so-called “major offences”, yet no details of those offences were ever provided. Another five workers involved in the union were transferred to other departments.

SERBUK later found out that their registration was rejected on orders from a “special team” established by Cellica Nurrachadiana, the acting regent of Karawang district. SERBUK repeatedly requested a meeting with Cellica, but she refused to meet with them.

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