Labour activists in Makassar charged with criminal coercion

On 19 September 2022, members of the National Workers Union (SPN) of Makassar City and the Makassar People’s Struggle Alliance held a demonstration at the South Sulawesi Regional Police Headquarters. This action was carried out in response to classifying nine labourers as suspects in a coercion case. The management of PT WIKA BETON had reported them through police report Number: LPB/346/IV/2022/SPKT Polda Sulsel on 28 April 2022.

PT Wika Beton is a company that produces concrete for toll roads, bridges, and electricity poles. The nine labour activists who became suspects had previously demanded that PT Wika Beton fulfil their labour rights by paying workers outstanding social security contributions (BPJS). The company then reported the workers to the police and accused them of committing the crime of coercion under Article 335 of the Criminal Code.

Ninety-two workers of PT Wika Beton were rumoured to be laid off and had been uncertain for four months when they went on strike. The management of PT Wika Beton responded by hiring thugs to disturb the workers’ activities. The right to strike action, including picketing, is enshrined in Indonesian labour laws. PT Wika Beton reported several workers, including Muhammad Said, to South Sulawesi Police, alleging that they had committed the crime of coercion through the strike.

The workers reported the company’s disruption of strike activities to the police (Police Report Number: LP/B/563/VI/2022/SPKT/POLDA SULAWESI SOUTH, 09 June 2022). Chairman of DPD SPN South Sulawesi Province, Salim Samsur, said that the South Sulawesi Police seemed to side with capital owners rather than workers. According to the union chairman, the police prioritised the company’s report over the workers’.   

Naming members of the SPN labour union as suspects poses a threat to workers who want to unionise and fight for their rights. Even though Law No. 21 of 2000 concerning labour unions has guaranteed their protection, cases such as these send a message that workers should choose to remain silent rather than risk being criminalised.

The Makassar People’s Struggle Alliance in action demanded five things:

  • Stop the criminalisation of workers who demand their rights,
  • Restorative Justice is not just a slogan,
  • Arrest and prosecute perpetrators of labour crimes,
  • Strict action against everyone who commits crimes against Trade Unions
  • Strict action against law enforcement officers who manipulate cases of demands for labourers’ rights.

Detailed Case Data
name of the location: PT Wika Beton, Makassar (-5.130427286873391, 119.44136659359793)
administrative region: Indonesia, South Sulawesi Province, Makassar City
total number of victims: 9
period of incident: 28.04.2022
perpetrator: police, company
perpetrator details: South Sulawesi Regional Police, PT Wika Beton
Issues: freedom of expression, freedom of peaceful assembly, labour rights, criminalisation
Sources: Further HRM News:

NumberName, DetailsGenderAgeGroup AffiliationViolation
1Muhammad Saidmaleunknownactivistlabour rights, freedom of assembly
8unknown unknown unknown activist labour rights, freedom of assembly