4,000 workers at Nike contractor in Indonesia ransack factory
Apr. 26, 1997
JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) _ About 4,000 workers at a factory making Nike shoes burned cars and ransacked offices in their second protest this week for better pay, news reports said today.
Two women workers were hospitalized after Friday's protest at a factory in Tangerang, a busy industrial center just west of Jakarta, the newspaper Republika reported. The factory is run by Nike contractor PT Hardaya Aneka Shoe Industry.
The workers said the company had failed to pay the new government-mandated minimum wage of $2.50 a day, which took effect April 1.
``They are ignoring the rights of the workers to get a decent salary,'' said Jusuf Makatita, a local union leader.
The company claimed it is paying the higher wages.
In southern Vietnam, meanwhile, about 3,000 workers unhappy with their contract staged a one-day walkout at a Nike factory in one of the largest strikes in the country's recent history.
It was the second strike at the factory in less than a month.
There was no apparent connection between the rampage in the Philippines and the strike in Vietnam.
In Tangerang, protesters burned two cars, one of which belonged to a government labor official, and smashed windows, doors and furniture at the factory, according to news reports.
A security guard was beaten when he tried to stop the vandalism, Republika said. Several police officers and soldiers were treated for minor injuries inflicted by the mob.
On Tuesday, some 13,000 company employees held a six-mile-long protest march to demand higher wages.
Indonesia, which allows only one government-controlled labor union, has been accused of holding down wages in order to attract foreign investment. Independent labor organizers have been arrested, beaten and sometimes killed.
The government acknowledges that its minimum wage is sufficient to pay for only about 90 percent of a single person's living expenses.
Nike, headquartered in Beaverton, Ore., and its competitor Reebok have denied accusations that they pay Indonesian workers too little and tolerate poor working conditions and other abuses at Indonesian factories run by contractors.
Both companies have taken foreign reporters on tours of the factories, which appeared clean and orderly. Nike refused to let the U.S. civil rights leader Jesse Jackson visit a factory in another town near Jakarta in July.
In Cu Chi, just outside Ho Chi Minh City, workers at the South Korean-owned Sam Yang Co. walked out Friday after being told by management they would be fired if they didn't sign a new binding contract, according to the state-run Labor newspaper.
The employees returned to their jobs today, and union and management representatives were meeting to discuss a settlement.
The employees are demanding higher wages, a safer working environment, more holidays and an annual bonus for Vietnam's lunar new year.
Sam Yang's employees earn about $40 per month _ well above the national average _ but they say they deserve more to compensate for the demands placed on them.
Nike representatives in Asia failed to return repeated telephone calls. Numerous earlier requests to visit Nike factories in Vietnam have been ignored.
Labor activists claim that Nike's factories in Vietnam exploit and abuse workers, sexually harass female employees and use corporal punishment for disciplinary purposes.