Never ending struggle to reinstate Arif Islam

Arif Islam, union leader of Angkasa Pura 1 Union. The management dismissed him after lead the members to take part on the union strike on 7-8 May 2008. The union is continuing their campaign to reinstate him!

The Angkasa Pura 1 Union has long struggle freedom of association and collective bargaining. Indonesia has ratified the Conventions No. 87 and 98, however violations against workers and trade union on exercising their rights still rampant in practice.

“We could not denied that the ratification of ILO Conventions has brought about significant changes to make positive progress toward promoting freedom of association and collective bargaining for the public sector workers, it has changed the nature of employment relations and the old one has been replaced by democratic industry which has to consider/involve workers through their union. However the management is not ready for such change”, said Itje Julinar, the union president. 

For the union, it is really clear that the change has vast implications for workers and its unions to fully exercise their rights, putting them on an equal basis with their employer by involving the workers and union in matters and/or decisions affecting their overall well-being at the workplace. Nevertheless, the workers are still facing barriers in exercising full rights to freedom of association and collective bargaining, therefore it is undeniable fact that violation against workers and their union is rampant in Indonesia.

In May 2008, employees of Angkasa Pura I held massive strikes in several Indonesian airports demanding allowance and leave which were agreed in their Collective Agreement. The strike was as a result of failed negotiation. The union attempted numerous efforts to resolve the dispute through negotiation, including mediation, but the management refused to implement the Collective Bargaining Agreement in full. Furthermore, the management has placed increasingly tighter restrictions on the union’s activity, intimidating and threatening union activists.

Eight union leaders of the Angkasa Pura 1 Union (Serikat Pekerja Angkasa Pura 1) have been victimized as the result of their participation in strike action in May 2008. Following the PSI global appeals, seven suspended leaders went back to work, but the Chairman of the union, Arif Islam, has still not been reinstated.

The union submitted a complaint to the International labour Organisation (ILO) on the allegation of several violations of freedom of association on the part of the stateowned enterprise PT (Persero) Angkasa Pura 1, including the following: (1) refusing to implement in full a collective bargaining agreement; (2) causing an unreasonable delay in concluding arbitration proceedings aimed at resolving the dispute; (3) intimidating and harassing workers protesting against the refusal to implement the collective bargaining agreement; (4) dismissing and suspending workers for taking part in legitimate strike action; and (5) establishing or actively encouraging the establishment of a new, company-controlled union for the purpose of ousting SP–AP1 as the representative union.

In November 2010 the Committee Freedom of Association has reiterated its recommendations in relation to the complaint acknowledged the violations, requested the government to take steps and ensure that the union and workers rights are fully implemented. One of recommendation stated that the Committee requests the government to ensure that Mr. Arif Islam is reinstated in the position he occupied in the company PT (Persero) Angkasa Pura 1 at the time of dismissal, with compensation for lost wages and benefits. However, the recommendations so far are still not being implemented, therefore the union is now continuing their campaign.

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