An Indonesian Union Leader Speaks Out On Nike’s Workers Being Abused

December 9th, 2011

Team Sweat:

Below is a letter from Siti Nurrofiqoh, the Chairperson of Bangkit Labour Union (Serikat Buruh Bangkit or SBB).  This union represents workers at Nike’s SM Global factory.  I am sharing the letter with you as I received it.  There are some spelling and grammatical errors, but I wanted you to read it as I did.

Peace, Jim Keady

Jim Keady meeting with Nike workers from the Serikat Buruh Bangkit

Dear Mr. Keady,

I am pleased to introduce myself, Siti Nurrofiqoh, the Chairperson of Bangkit Labour Union (Serikat Buruh Bangkit or SBB). At present we have ten bases in ten factories and one of them is PT SM Global.

First of all, let me convey our sincere appreciation for the all the invaluable efforts that you have been doing in connecting the labour with Nike including your meeting yesterday with unions in Tangerang. My sincere apology for not being able to attend the meeting yesterday.

Secondly, we would like to confirm that the issues you have raised in your e-mail to Nike are true.  For your information, our labour union has been trying to do the legal action since 2008 by reporting the issues to the relevant and authorized government institutions for the company to fulfil the rights of the labour (we keep all the related documents).  Unfortunately, no change was made by the factory.  Instead, the union officials received pressure, repeated rotation of their positions, downgraded, and be blamed by the management of the factory in front of all the workers saying that the factory will be closed as a result of the action of union officials.  Those are the fact of their efforts to do character assassination, create confrontation among union officials and the workers and violation to the freedom of establishing a union by making the union officials as the public enemy for the workers.

For your information, in previous similar case when the factory was reprimanded for the first time, the management announced the same information – blaming the officials and not admitting the violation and did not want to correct the mistakes.  Instead, the workers were requested to sign a pre-arranged statement stating that they were in good condition, have no problem, and will not demanding anything.

On 25 August 2011, the management repeated their similar actions. On that day, while the workers will take holiday for celebrating religious day, they were made anxious in a meeting with Mr. Jung who said that the factory will be closed.  The closing was due to the report of the labour union causing reprimand by Nike to the factory, and that Nike had cancelled their order as a result of this. Mr. Jung said that after Idul Fitri holiday, the worker will be put on holiday. Those who were considered undisciplined will be laid off (we have no clue the definition of “undisciplined”).

As a labour union, I believe that the reprimand from Nike is not intended to close the factory which will surely provoke suffering for the labours.  During the years, the labours are treated very unfairly as the factory has been practising no compliant procedure to Nike ethical code, in addition to continuous exploitation to achieve certain standard of quality and quota of quantity. Thus, it is very unfair for the labours and union if the reprimand is used by the management to clean their hand by sacrificing and blaming the union.

Once again, I greatly appreciate and thankful to you who has perfectly raised the issues and facts occurred in PT SM Global as well as submitted them to Nike. Me and my team will be ready to provide more information, evidence, and documents to complement our report on unfair treatment to the labours including the latest threat on the closing of the factory.

Looking forward to future collaboration, I remain,

Sincerely yours,


Serikat Buruh Bangkit

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