Workers at Coca-Cola Indonesia fighting for independent and democratic unions have again confirmed their confidence in union leaders victimized by management. At a general membership meeting on February 5, Lutfi Arifiyanto was re-elected chairman of the independent SBMCC, the union of workers at Coca-Cola Indonesia in Bawen, Java.
Three days after the union elected him chairman at its founding assembly in February 2017, Lutfi was informed of his transfer to a distribution facility some 170 kilometers from the Bawen plant. He refused the transfer because it violated his members’ fundamental right to freely elect their union leadership. As a result of his refusal to have these internationally recognized rights stripped away he was formally terminated on November 21, 2017.
Since his termination, Lutfi has been denied access to the facility whose workers elected him to represent them, and management has refused his participation in union-management meetings.
The Bawen workers’ solid support for their union chairman follows the re-election last June of Atra Narwanto as chairman of the independent union SBCCD at the company’s Cibitung distribution center. Atra was suspended in 2015 and dismissed the following year as part of the management backlash against workers organizing to challenge the authoritarian industrial relations legacy of the military dictatorship by organizing democratic unions at Coke Indonesia. Like Lutfi, he is systematically refused access to his members and management refuses to meet with the union with him present, an egregious violation of ILO Conventions and jurisprudence.
Coca-Cola Indonesia continues to victimize independent union leaders and members, most recently at its Bandung operations, where in November 2018 the General Secretary, Deputy General Secretary and Communications Officer of the newly established independent SPMCC were terminated within the framework of a “voluntary” redundancy program targeting union members exclusively.
With the support of IUF members in Indonesia and around the world, the fight for rights at Coca-Cola continues.