More than 600 workers at Jakarta's Tanjung Priok port have gone on strike and could extend the action until Aug. 10, their union said on Friday, disrupting operations at the biggest terminal of Indonesia's busiest port.
The labour union of PT Jakarta International Container Terminal (JICT) launched the strike on Thursday demanding bonus payments promised to workers by the company, Nova Sofyan Hakim, chairman of the union told Reuters.
JICT operates the largest container terminal at Tanjung Priok, handling 70 percent of the port's exports and imports.
Twenty ships JICT was scheduled to handle have been redirected for loading and unloading at other terminals due to the strike, the transport ministry said in a statement, adding that the port's activities remained normal.
"We have anticipated this by using the space in other terminals to avoid stagnation. Yesterday was a bit crowded, but today's preparation is better," the director general of customs, Heru Pambudi, told Reuters.
Local media have reported container trucks lining up on roads to other port entrances because the JICT gate was locked.
JICT Vice President Director Riza Erivan told Metro TV that workers' demands should be settled through a dialogue.
"This is an industrial relation problem. We want this to be put in a legal context, through a tripartite dialogue that can also be brought up to the Industrial Relations Court," Erivan said.
The Jakarta government will begin mediating the dispute between the union and JICT management on Friday, manpower official Dwi Untoro said, as quoted by media.
Union chairman Hakim has not yet commented on the mediation process, but he said striking workers received a warning letter from the company on Friday demanding they go back to work.
Indonesia's exports and imports contracted in June on a yearly basis for the first time in nine months and officials blamed seasonal factors. Cumulatively, in the first half of this year, exports and imports rose 14 percent and 10 percent, respectively, reflecting a recovery in external trade for Southeast Asia's largest economy.
The workers' union had planned to strike in May to protest against a cut in their benefits, but called off the action after reaching an agreement with the company.
JICT is controlled by Hong Kong-based Hutchison Ports and state-owned operator Pelindo II.
(Reporting by Hidayat Setiaji and Gayatri Suroyo; Editing by Ed Davies and Tom Hogue)