Dismissed Indonesian workers protest vs Adidas ahead of World Cup

Dismissed Indonesian workers protest vs Adidas ahead of World Cup
View of the Arena da Baixada stadium during a FIFA inspection in Curitiba, Brazil.

As international sporting goods brand Adidas sponsors the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil, hundreds of workers formerly employed by the company in Jakarta staged a demonstration on Wednesday demanding Adidas and its local contractor pay them severance owed since 2012.

The demonstrators expressed their anger at the Hotel Indonesia traffic circle in Central Jakarta, carrying signs denouncing Adidas and local footwear producer PT Panarub Dwikarya (PDK).

The demonstrators were part of more than 300 PDK workers who lost their jobs after joining a five-day strike in 2012.

In October 2012, 1,300 PDK workers went on a strike and protested in front of the factory in Tangerang, Banten, after the company imposed a new policy forcing them to make more shoes during the same working hours. In response, the workers demanded better working conditions and higher salaries in accordance with the regional minimum wage (UMR).

The strike went on for five days and PDK responded by giving the workers the option to voluntarily resign and receive a severance of Rp 1.6 million (S$168). More than 300 workers refused to resign and were fired anyway without receiving the severance.

Using this week's opening of the World Cup as momentum, the fired workers gathered once more to stage a protest. They chanted: "Adidas penindas!" (Adidas is an oppressor) and "Adidas kaya raya, buruh menderita!" (Adidas is rich, the workers are suffering).

The head of the Indonesian Labor Association Movement's Textile Union of Garment, Textile and Shoes Workers (SGBGTS-GSBI), Kokom Komalawati, said that the union had contacted both PDK and Adidas multiple times but neither company had yet to settle the issue.

Kokom also said that the union demanded Rp 7 billion in severance payments for the more than 300 workers, while PDK offered to pay much less. She added that every Thursday since they were fired, hundreds of workers have demonstrated in front of the PDK plant in Tangerang demanding the payment.

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