Chinese and Indonesian Workers Clash at Indonesian Nickel Plant

Two workers were killed in clashes and riots at an Indonesian nickel processing plant over the weekend, officials said yesterday. Demonstrations at PT Gunbuster Nickel Industry (GNI) in Morowali, Central Sulawesi, ended in clashes between groups of Indonesian workers and foreign workers from Chinawhich caused the death of two people, a Chinese and an Indonesian.

On Saturday, workers belonging to the National Union of Workers (SPN) held a meeting with the company. During the meeting, the mass of SPN workers presented eight demands to the company, but no agreement was reached between the two parties at the meeting. These demands included the implementation of Occupational Safety and Protection (K3) procedures, the provision of personal protective equipment to workers, the suspension of salary deductions, and the rehiring of SPN members who were fired for going on strike.

There have recently been several work-related incidents at the Morowali smelter, some of which have resulted in deaths and injuries to workers. Established in 2019, GNI was inaugurated by President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo in December 2021. The company belongs to the Chinese steel giant, Jiangsu Delong Nickel Industry Co. Ltd., which also conducts mineral mining and refining operations in the Xiangshui Industrial Economic Zone in Jiangsu province.

After its meeting with the workers, SPN sent a notification letter about a strike action if the company did not comply with all the demands raised. In response to this, GNI management replied that I would not accept any of the demands made by its workers. Due to the rejection of this demand, the SPN workers called a strike on January 14. The Indonesian workers invited other workers to demonstrate, but the Chinese workers refused. This then led to fist fights between the two groups of workers using iron and other factory equipment.

The Regent of North Morowali, Delis Julkarson Hi, has argued that an external provocateur was behind the clashes. He claims that the troublemakers took advantage of the riots by vandalizing the factory, burning company assets and looting the migrant workers’ dormitories. At least three blocks where the Chinese workers live and one block to ensure vital objects were burned, along with eight vehicles.

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the police have they arrested 70 people for questioning at the North Morowali Police Headquarters. Meanwhile, hundreds of military and police officers were deployed to secure the smelting factory.

On Monday, in an effort to resolve the conflict, the North Morowali National Police held a dialogue between the workers and the management of GNI, although a resolution has not yet been reached.

This is not the first controversy associated with Chinese nationals working in Indonesia. In 2020, the Indonesian government Chinese foreign workers allowed to enter the country in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic at a time when many local workers had lost their jobs due to the virus.

In some cases, this problem has caused protests. One such incident took place in June 2020, when it was reported that 156 Chinese foreign workers from Guangzhou had landed in Manado, North Sulawesi before taking a connecting flight to Haluoleo Airport in Kendari, in South East Sulawesi province. Was reported that these workers were going to work for PT Virtue Dragon Nickel Industry, another Chinese company focused on nickel mining. According to press reports, a group of people of an unspecified size gathered in front of the Haluoleo airport to protest the arrival of the workers, leading to clashes with the police.

This took advantage of popular suspicions about the alleged leniency of the government towards the arrival of Chinese workers. Many Indonesians view these arrivals unfavorably and fear that workers from China could take the jobs of domestic workers in a country where unemployment remains high. This, in turn, reflects longstanding suspicions about Chinese activities in Indonesia and fears that Chinese arrivals will flood the country.

As a result, Jokowi’s welcoming attitude towards Chinese investment and the arrival of the Chinese has festering Negative sentiment towards workers and anti-China sentiment in general. This week’s incident in Morowali is likely to further exacerbate this negative perception.

In this case, the recent incident should be thoroughly and objectively investigated, especially given GNI’s poor record on safety and employee management. end of december, an explosion at the GNI as a mineral processing and refining plant in Morowali delicate two employees That accident too motivated a demonstration not only of the employees of the company but also of the workers of the other factories that surround it. In this case, they also demanded improvements in occupational health and safety.

In the aftermath of Saturday’s violence, GNI must meet workers’ demands for their well-being, especially demands related to workers’ wages and safety. Indonesian analyst Muslim Arbi has argument that if the Indonesian government and GNI do not solve this problem, similar protests will spread to other regions of Indonesia, especially in areas where Chinese workers are present.

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