Marriott workers in Indonesia continue protest actions against unfair dismissals

Marriott workers in Indonesia continue protest actions against unfair dismissals

Members of the IUF-affiliated FSPM continue to hold protest actions demanding the reinstatement of 12 unfairly terminated union leaders and members, including the union president. They were terminated in retaliation for reporting labour rights violations at the hotel.

Marriott workers in Indonesia protest unfair dismissals for reporting labour rights violations

Marriott workers in Indonesia protest unfair dismissals for reporting labour rights violations

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.

Cancel the termination of employment due to efficiency including the Union President at Courtyard Bandung

As Unilever launches its new global tea business, Lipton tea workers in Pakistan are protesting against deception and insecurity

As Unilever launches its new global tea business, Lipton tea workers in Pakistan are protesting against deception and insecurity

As Unilever prepares to launch the new global tea company ekaterra on 1st October, workers in Pakistan are protesting against local management’s deliberate deception and misinformation that has undermined job security and created even greater anxiety in a pandemic.

When Unilever Pakistan started the transfer of the Khanewal tea factory to ekaterra on 1st July, the Workers Union Unilever Pakistan (WUUP) requested more information about the terms and conditions of the transition and how union members will transfer to the new business. Management refused to respond, claiming that the union does not have collective bargaining status. This is despite the fact that WUUP represents the majority of workers at the tea factory. WUUP – a member of the IUF-affiliated Pakistan Food Workers Federation (PFWF) – argued that it does not need collective bargaining status to have the right to information about its members’ job security. Management instead misused an emergency safety meeting to make announcements to all employees, giving vague reassurances. When a formal “town hall” meeting of all employees was finally held, no new information was provided and questions by worried union members were ignored.

While the company claims it is only obliged to meet with representatives of the Unilever Employees Federation due to its national collective bargaining status, management conveniently ignores the fact there is no collective bargaining involved. It also ignores well documented corruption and collusion that severely undermined human rights and violated ethical standards in the past. In 2013 the leadership of the Unilever Employees Federation were charged with embezzlement of the workers’ welfare fund, which also implicated people in local management.

Even with the workers welfare fund accounts frozen while under police investigation, Unilever Pakistan management continued to make monthly deductions from workers’ wages. WUUP representatives at Khanewal asked management what will happen to these funds when ekaterra is spun off from Unilever on 1st October. There was no reply. Given past corruption and collusion, Lipton tea workers are worried their entitlements will simply disappear when they move to the new company.

Also unresolved is the fate of 33 WUUP members arbitrarily designated as “surplus” at the Lipton factory. Management refuses to discuss their fate with the union, raising fears they will be forced into redundancy on 1st October.

In recent years management transferred more machinery and work to third parties, reducing job roles at the Lipton factory. Despite company claims that AGA PACK Private Limited in Karachi is a specialized tea business, all of the machinery and equipment is owned by Unilever Pakistan. AGA PACK’s sole specialization is that it provides cheap, non-union labour.

The fact that AGA PACK was given much more information by Unilever Pakistan management about the new business arrangements after 1st October, suggests that ekaterra will maintain these precarious employment arrangements and disguised employment relationships. Instead of a fresh start to overcome the legacy of corruption, collusion and rights violations in the past, ekaterra appears more determined to limit the role of independent unions in the future. Yet the deception and misinformation used to launch its new business risks creating mistrust and uncertainty well beyond the Lipton workers at Khanewal.


Coca-Cola Philippines workers overcome “red tagging” fear in victory for independent unions

Coca-Cola Philippines workers overcome “red tagging” fear in victory for independent unions

In a major victory against the climate of fear created by “red-tagging”, more Coca-Cola workers in the Philippines have voted in favour of independent, democratic trade unions to defend their rights and interests.

On 21 July 2021, over 200 workers at two Coca-Cola bottling plants in Davao voted overwhelmingly in favour of SAMACOKE, the union affiliated to FCCU that is a member of the national trade union center SENTRO and IUF.

In a concerted effort to remove genuine, democratic trade unions from bottling plants and distribution centers across the Philippines, the local management of Coca-Cola Philippines created COCBLU in 2019. Newly employed Coca-Cola logistics workers were the first to be forced to sign up as members of COCBLU, often signing membership papers as a condition of their employment.

When the new campaign of fear through “red tagging” commenced, Coca-Cola management saw an opportunity to impose COCBLU on workers with the help of the military and police.

In voting against the management-controlled COCBLU on 21 July, workers demonstrated tremendous courage and conviction. It was not only a rejection of the intimidation and bullying that workers normally face with management-controlled unions. It was a courageous stand against months of ruthless intimidation by the police force and fear created by “red-tagging”.

The IUF Asia/Pacific Regional Secretary sent a message of congratulations to the members of SAMACOKE in Davao, praising them for their courage and declaring, “Until now red-tagging has been a war on worker and trade union rights. Through lies, disinformation, manipulation and intimidation, the government and ruthless employers have tried to determine which unions workers can choose to join. The SAMACOKE victory shows that workers still have a choice. It is a choice that is fundamental to protecting their jobs and livelihoods. It is a choice of dignity over fear. Dignity won today.”

Working in luxury, living in poverty. Naga World Hotel Casino workers face more poverty after mass redundancies.

Working in luxury, living in poverty. Naga World Hotel Casino workers face more poverty after mass redundancies.

After years of working in the luxurious Naga World Hotel Casino complex in Phnom Penh, over 1,300 workers were thrown out in a mass redundancy program.

Naga Corp, “one of the world’s most profitable gaming companies, and the largest gaming entertainment company in the Mekong Region“, claims the drastic cuts were necessary due to economic hardship.

But the real economic hardship is faced by workers who were already among the working poor due to low wages and the refusal of the company to bargain wages with the union, LRSU.

With wage cuts and non-payment of wages during the pandemic, workers ended up deeper in poverty. Now their forced redundancy has driven them even further into poverty and debt.

Please support the unfairly terminated workers at Naga World Hotel Casino by sending a protest message to the company. Click here to go to the IUF urgent action page to add your outrage and to demand decency!

ILO resolution calls for restoration of democracy and respect for fundamental rights in Myanmar

On 19 June 2021 the 109th Session of the International Labour Conference passed the Resolution for a return to democracy and respect for fundamental rights in Myanmar. This resolution clearly reflects the tripartite commitment of governments, trade unions and employers to seek a restoration of democracy in Myanmar.

The resolution also clearly demonstrates that the right to freedom of association is integral to democracy and the exercise of democratic rights.

Unofficial Translations [PDF]

ဗမာဘာသာစကား Burmese

বাংলা Bengali

Bahasa Indonesia

हिन्दी Hindi

اردو Urdu

In this resolution the International Labour Conference calls upon Myanmar to:

(a) restore democratic order and civilian rule in Myanmar, and – once the democratically elected government has been restored – to amend without delay the Civil Services Personnel Law, the Settlement of Labour Disputes Law and the Labour Organization Law, consistent with the Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organise Convention, 1948 (No.87) ratified by
(b) cease all attacks, threats and intimidation by the military against workers, employers and their respective organizations, and the general population, including in relation to their peaceful participation in protest activities, as well as against religious and ethnic minorities such as the Rohingya, and immediately and unconditionally release from detention and withdraw any charges against all those arbitrarily detained; 
(c) end the violation of human rights and ensure the restoration of fundamental principles and rights at work;
(d) respect Convention No. 87 and ensure that workers and employers are able to exercise their freedom of association rights in a climate of freedom and security, free from violence, arbitrary arrest and detention;
(e) repeal any measures or orders issued, or additional measures imposed, following the removal of the civilian government curtailing freedom of expression and freedom of peaceful assembly and measures restricting freedom of workers, employers and their respective organizations to undertake their activities freely and without threat of intimidation or harm; 
(f) ensure safe and unimpeded humanitarian access to support all people in need.

Also see Back to barracks! The Tatmadaw must withdraw from all political, civil and economic affairs and restore Myanmar’s path to democracy [Feb 6, 2021]