Tanjung Priok port workers plan strike next week

Tanjung Priok port Indonesia 16x9

Fresh from handling its largest container vessel recently, Indonesia’s Tanjung Priok is facing the prospect of a port workers’ strike next week.

Reuters reported that some 2,000 workers from the union are expected to go on strike from May 15-20 to protest against the contract extension of the Jakarta International Container Terminal’s (JICT) contract to operate the port, which they say is bad for the country and for workers’ rights.

The industrial action is expected to disrupt shipping operations at Jakarta’s main port, which is Indonesia’s biggest gateway port and is completing upgrading works to boost annual capacity to 11.5m teu.

“We are going all out in [next week’s] strike,” said Nova Sofyan Hakim, chairman of the union at Jakarta International Container Terminal (JICT), adding that all port operations would be halted during the strike.

The issue is not new. The container handling contract held by JICT, which is a joint venture between state-owned port operator Pelindo II and Hong Kong’s Hutchison Ports, was due to expire in 2019, but in 2014 Pelindo II extended it until 2039. The decision drew public criticism at the time and has been under investigation since 2015.

A parliamentary committee earlier this year claimed the contract extension potentially caused state losses of IDR36trn ($2.70bn) and that it was awarded without shareholders’ approval.

Port strikes are not uncommon in Indonesia. Port workers at Tanjung Priok had gone on strike in January last year and several times in 2013 on other issues.