Protesting workers demand company be held liable for fatal nickel smelter blast

Media Sulteng – December 27, 2023
Solidarity action with workers killed in fatal smelter explosion – December 27, 2023 (MS)

Bahodopi – The Association of Organisations (Poros) of Mourning Workers held a peaceful demonstration in front of the PT Indonesia Morowali Industrial Park (IMIP) offices in Fatufia Village in Central Sulawesi on Wednesday December 27.

The demonstration was held as a form of solidarity with the dozens of workers killed and injured a consequence of an Indonesia PT Tsingshan Stainless Steel (ITSS) nickel smelter furnace explosion in the IMIP Park three days earlier.

The participants of the action, which were estimated at around 5,000 people, will later gather at the Fatufia Village Alkhairat Mosque parking area and in front of the Labota Village apartments.

The demonstrators came from five labour organisations in the IMIP Park, namely the Mining and Energy Federation (FPE), the Indonesian Prosperity Trade Union (SPIS), the Chemical, Energy and Mining Industrial Federation (FIKEP), the Indonesian National Trade Union Federation (FSPNI) and the Sulawesi Mining, Investment and Factory Trade Union (SP SMIP).

In a written release on Tuesday December 26, action coordinator Dodi Amir said that the aim of the action was to demand that the PT ITSS and PT IMIP management, as the owners of the industrial area, "Immediately act to form an investigation team together with trade union representatives that are part of the Morowali Regency labour axis alliance".

The peaceful actions, which are scheduled to take place over three days starting from Wednesday December 17 to Friday December 19, will be joined by around 5,000 demonstrators.

Amir said that they are taking up 23 demands including a request to carry out periodic rebuilds, stop the use of sub-standard equipment and urging the investigation and prosecution of the parties related to the tragedy.

In a statement Amir said he hopes that the demands from the trade unions would be fulfilled immediately by the related parties. "Hopefully the peaceful action that will be held tomorrow will proceed smoothly and peacefully", he concluded.

The following are the points in the demands by the protesting workers:

1. Periodic rebuilds.

2. Improved company health facilities and additional ambulances in the IMIP area.

3. The safe repatriation of foreign workers (TKA) (Ministry of Labour Regulation 349/2019 on certain positions that are prohibited from being occupied by foreign workers).

4. Mandatory use of the Indonesian language in computer programs, work equipment and or operations.

5. Foreign workers are required to speak Indonesian.

6. Mandatory professional health and safety (K3) officers (leadership level) with specific qualifications.

7. Workers are not allowed to be loaned between divisions.

8. The abolition of the Ferroalloy division.

9. Stop using work equipment that does not meet standards.

10. Establish an Emergency Response Team (ERT) according to its role.

11. Mandatory emergency exits in every work area (storage).

12. The addition of bus facilities (pickup and drop off).

13. The company must provide compensation to victims of fatal work accidents of a greater value than Social Security Management Agency (BPJS) employment compensation.

14. The company must provide compensation to victims of work inures of a greater value than BPJS employment compensation.

15. The families of victims of fatal accidents are given guarantees of work according to their competency level.

16. Occupational Safety and Health Committee (P2K3) at the company is required to involve trade union officials.

17. Prosecute the PT ITSS management and all parties involved the negligence that caused accident at the Ferro-silicon section of PT ITSS.

18. A mandatory 3 x 24 hour mourning period without production activities for every fatal accident.

19. Investigations into work accidents must involves union elements (in the investigation team)

20. December 24 shall be a day of mourning in the PT IMIP area and is designated as a company holiday that will be commemorated every year.

21. The company is required to provide full protective clothing (APD) to workers in all facilities.

22. Foreign investments in the PT IMIP must provide decent wages to workers.

23. The company or management in the PT IMIP area is not allowed to dismiss workers who disseminate videos on social media when a work accident occurs.

According to one of the employees named Benny, points 4 and 5 in the demands are non-negotiable.

"On points 4 and 5 of the demands I think they are non-negotiable, considering that almost all operational administration in the IMIP area uses Mandarin, and this can be seen because every Indonesian administrator must be proficient in Mandarin and employee information systems use Mandarin script" he said.

[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was "Lakukan Aksi Demo, Ini 23 Tuntutan dari Poros Buruh Berkabung Di Morowali, Poin 4 dan 5 Mustahil?".]