Thursday, May 11, 2006

Jailed Trade Union Leaders in Indonesia.

Back in February we (LabourStart) launched a campaign in support of six jailed trade union leaders in Indonesia. They were employed by a company called Musim Mas, the world's largest manufacturer of palm oil.

As always happens in these cases, the response -- initially quite large --has dropped down considerably. Now only a trickle of messages are reaching the Indonesian government. Possibly, some bureaucrat there is telling his boss, "Don't worry -- we hardly hear any more about those jailed unionists. We can let them rot. The world has already forgotten them."
But we have not forgotten them. The union chairperson, Robin Kimbi, and the regional secretary, Masry Sebayang, got two years in prison. Fourteen months terms were given to union leaders Suyahman, Safrudin, Akhen Pane and Sruhas Towo.
Their "crime" was to exercise their mandate as union leaders. They are
prisoners of conscience.
We have not forgotten them, and we will not let this issue drop.
Last week, Amnesty International called on its members around the world to raise their voices in protest against the jailing of the Musim Mas trade unionists.
And unions around the world are taking up the cause.
The Nestle European Works Council, representing 80,000 company employees,has written to the company to express concern over the possible presence of Musim Mas palm oil and oleochemicals in Nestle products.
The German Food and Allied Workers NGG and the Dutch FNV Bondgenoten have echoed the public call by the Unilever European Works Council for Unilever to distance itself from Musim Mas and publicly reveal its sources for the palm oil in company products.

And the global union federation representing food workers, the IUF (at whose request we launched our campaign) has now begun to raise money for the struggle through its International Musim Mas Defense Fund.
Momentum is growing again. A three-month old campaign, no longer "fresh", is attracting attention. The Indonesian government is going to have to start paying attention.

Please do these 3 simple things today:

1. Send off your message of protest

2. Donate generously to the International Musim Mas Defense Fund:
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3. Spread the word in your workplace and union. Forward on this email

In the international trade union movement we do not forget those who
languish in prisons for our cause. This campaign continues.
Solidarity forever!
Eric Lee

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