On August 26, workers at Courtyard by Marriott in Bandung launched protest actions in response to the unfair termination of 15 workers including the union president.
Although management claims the terminations were for “efficiency” reasons, their dismissal followed the union’s request to the Manpower Department (labour department) to investigate violations of labour regulations at the hotel.
In April 2020 the union and Courtyard management negotiated an agreement on wage reductions during the temporary closure of the hotel. Union members agreed to temporary wage cuts in return for job security during the pandemic. Eventually it was agreed that workers would receive 50% of their basic salary during the temporary shutdown. Although management indicated in May 2020 they might impose temporary layoffs, the union opposed this and reported it to the Manpower Department. Management then maintained the terms of the agreement.
From August to December 2020 the temporary wage reduction was continued, but management first had to pay unpaid wages for May to July. The war arrears were eventually paid.
However in January 2021 management then broke the agreement by unilaterally imposing further wage cuts. Without any transparency or justification, the new round of wage reductions varied in the different departments of the hotel. This was as much as 70% in some departments. As the union had pointed out in April 2020, 50% of the basic wage is already less than the legal minimum wage. Now management was unilaterally cutting this further.
Management also abolished the weekly day off and overtime pay. Instead of overtime pay workers would receive two days off. All three of these unilateral changes violate labour regulations. After management refused to respond to requests by the union to reverse these changes and negotiate other changes that could help to reduce costs, the union reported the violations to the Manpower Department on 15 June. On 8 July the labour department carried out an inspection of the hotel to verify these violations and met with union members. Three weeks later management summoned 12 union members, including the union president, to a meeting and announced layoffs due to “efficiency”.
Of those issued with termination notices 12 union members, including the union president, refused to accept it since there was no negotiation with the union to explain the criteria for redundancies or the efficiency issues behind it. On 5 August the union made a proposal that the company offer voluntary early retirement, stop using outsourced contract workers, and stop hiring new employees. Management ignored this and pushed ahead with the terminations.
In a meeting on 12 August, the union reminded the management of the sacrifice union members already made to help the business through this difficult time. Workers endured pay cuts for one and a half years, pushing them below the legal minimum wage and well below a living wage. This sacrifice was in return for job security. Now management’s actions have taken that job security away.
Also, by terminating the elected union president, management has denied all union members their right to union representation. This further undermines job security and rights at Courtyard by Marriott in Bandung.