IUF affiliates in Indonesia continue their protests in support of Reni Desmiria, secretary of the SPBMI, the union of workers at major global processed seafood exporter Bumi Menara Internusa (BMI) in Lampung. Reni was arrested and jailed on May 17, and the company is demanding 6 years’ imprisonment – the maximum penalty – for an infraction committed 8 years ago, when she was first hired as a contract worker at the factory. SPBMI is a member of the IUF-affiliated FSBMM, the independent foodworkers federation.
At the time, she submitted a fake high school certificate in order to get hired. Since her arrest, the company has told her that she can be immediately released if she agrees to resign her position at the company, and with it her role as elected union secretary. She has refused.
A delegation including IUF Asia/Pacific Regional Secretary Hidayat Greenfield visited her in prison on June 17, and FSBMM members from several companies in Lampung joined SPBMI in the ongoing daily rallies at the factory gate to demand her release. The IUF is urging importers of BMI seafood products and their retail customers to call on BMI secure her release and a reduction of charges commensurate with the offense.
Since it was founded in 2012, the SPBMI has been struggling to end abuses at the factory, including the massive use of casual employment contracts which generate permanent insecurity and particularly affect the many women at the factory. As union secretary, Reni had been particularly effective in increasing the number of union members registered in the government’s mandatory health insurance scheme BPJS, from 15 to 92.