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Prabowo's former employees demand payment of back wages, severance pay
Berita Terheboh - March 22, 2018
They have been sleeping out at the front entrance to the DPR for six days waiting for the people's representatives to open a dialogue with the company on fulfilling its obligations.
PT Kertas Nusantara, a pulp and paper manufacture, is controlled by Greater Indonesia Movement Party (Gerindra) chairperson Prabowo Subianto.
"Our demands go back to 2014 but we have still not been paid our wages plus severance pay and pensions, both those who are retired as well as those who have died. There are several other issues pending but what is clearly the basic problem is wages and severance pay", said SPKahut chairperson Indra Alam in front of the DPR building in Jakarta on Wednesday March 21.
Indra also demanded that the DPR's Commission IX follow up alleged violations at PT Kertas Nusantara by summoning the head of the company to attend a public hearing (RDPU).
Indra said that they have already met with Commission IX members and were promised that a RDPU would be held this week. So far however, there has been no clarification on the hearing.
"I'm disappointed that there's been no clarification and speaking frankly those of us from outside Jakarta are having to pay the cost of all this. Our situation is like this. What is clear is that we want Commission IX to hold an RDPU with PT Kertas Nusantara Kertas in order to be able to follow it up as fully as possible", he said.
Indra said that they don't care if there are those that think the trade union's actions smack of politics. According to Indra, they are genuinely articulating the demands of PT Kertas Nusantara employees for justice.
Nevertheless, there have been several attempts at blocking the demonstration in front of the DPR with Gerindra Party members seizing protest banners by force. Yet the demands they are making have no relationship with Gerindra.
"We are genuine employees who for four years have been demanding our rights [to back wages] plus severance pay that is yet to be paid. If you want to see it as political go ahead but what is clear is we are just making demands [on a company] which is by chance is owned by Pak Prabowo. Come on Pak Prabowo come down from the mountain and resolve this issue. Essentially we are just asking for justice", he concluded.
Why then have the employees' wages not been paid yet. The reason is that the company is bankrupt and has been trapped in debt payments for 15 years starting in 2013.
The pulp and paper company owned by the Prabowo family has been declared bankrupt and in 2011 its creditors agreed that PT Kertas Nusantara must pay off trillions of rupiah in debt.
One of the banners being used at the demonstration had a picture of Prabowo on it and read, "If you want to be a leader please address the rights of PT Kertas Nusantara employees", referring to the 2019 presidential elections when Prabowo is again expected to face off against President Joko Widodo.
[Abridged translation by James Balowski. The second part of the article describes in detail the bankruptcy process, its creditors and the company's repayment obligations. The original title of the article was Ini Asal Muasal Dibalik Tuntutan Bekas Pegawai Perusahaan Prabowo Minta Empat Tahun Gaji Dibayar.]
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