Union protests lack of action by government in response to workplace accidents in Batam

Union protests in Batam
The labor union members who are part of the Batam People's Coalition held a protest on Tuesday, March 14, 2023. The protest took place at the Office of Manpower and Transmigration Supervision Agency of the Riau Islands Province in Batam. Photo: gokepri/Engesti

Batam, gokepri – Hundreds of members of the Batam Labor Union have called on the Batam City Government to form a special fact-finding team to investigate recent workplace accidents that have resulted in the deaths of four of their colleagues.

Yapet Ramon, Chairman of the Batam chapter of the Indonesian Metal Workers Federation (FSPMI), has demanded that the Batam City Government summon the companies and subcontractors where the victims worked.

The Union members are concerned about two incidents that occurred at PT Pax Ocean Nanindah Mutiara Shipyard, where two subcontractors from PT Ganda Samudra were suspected to have died due to poisoning, and at PT Alusteel, where two subcontractors from PT GMC were killed by heavy equipment.

“Do not turn a blind eye or a deaf ear to this. Form a joint fact-finding team. Remember, these workplace accidents have caused four fatalities, which means there are now four new widows in Batam. We must take action to prevent further loss of life due to similar incidents and the government’s lack of attention,” Yapet said during a protest rally in Batam Center on Tuesday, March 14, 2023.

The Union has also demanded that the Batam City Government conduct surprise inspections on subcontractor and main contractor companies. “Summon the subcontractors and main contractors. Ask for a clear explanation of what happened to our colleagues,” Yapet added.

He also expressed concern that all parties involved seemed to be trying to cover up the cause of death, particularly in the case of PT Pax Ocean Nanindah Mutiara Shipyard. “So far, there has been no clear explanation. However, the preliminary suspicion is that the deaths were due to gas poisoning,” he said.

The Head of Batam City Manpower Office, Rudi Sakyakirti, has stated that workplace accidents that occur in Batam are under the jurisdiction of the Manpower Office of the Riau Islands Province. He said that the role of the Batam Manpower Office is limited to supervision, which may hinder their movement in responding to workplace accidents.

“This is not the responsibility of the Batam Manpower Office. If I handle it, the story will be different,” Rudi said on Tuesday, March 14, 2023.

The Batam Manpower Office has sent letters to high-risk companies to remind them to implement Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) principles. The office is also planning to conduct field visits to high-risk companies in Batam together with the Provincial Manpower Office. In response to the Union’s demands for a joint fact-finding team, Rudi will relay the message to Batam Mayor Muhammad Rudi to be forwarded to the Manpower Office of the Riau Islands Province.

“It’s just a matter of scheduling. It’s not just about this (workplace accidents), but there’s a lot to see. Because workplace accidents fall under the jurisdiction of the province. We can’t bother other people,” he added.

Their immediate focus is on issuing reminders to minecon companies to enforce OHS principles on subcontractors. “Later, we will emphasize to the minecon companies not to accept subcontractors who do not have complete OHS protocols,” Rudi added.

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Author: Engesti