Friday, February 3, 2023

Morowali riot sets a time bomb for Indonesia’s nickel industry

Reading Time: 2 minutes
Hanif Muhammad

Journalist

yan

Editor

Interview

The riot in PT Gunbuster Nickel Industri (GNI) on January 14, 2023, between domestic and Chinese workers has signaled an underlying structural problem in the unfair treatment of labors in the industry.

GNI is a nickel processing company owned by Chinese businessman Tony Zhou Yuan. It is a unit of Jiangsu Delong Nickel Industry in Morowali, Central Sulawesi. The nickel smelting factory grand opening was officiated by President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo himself. In late 2021, GNI started running a smelter that has 1.8 million tons annual capacity, at a cost of around US$ 2.7 billion.

Social inequality between foreign and domestic workers

One of the factors that exacerbated the riot between domestic and Chinese workers is the apparent social and income inequality between the two. Many of domestic workers have complained on how the Chinese workers received better accommodation and salary. Some have also mentioned the different treatment from these foreigners towards the locals.

Shortcomings in work safety regulations

Prior to the riot that claimed two lives – a Chinese and a local – domestic workers had organized a strike on December 22-24, 2022. On December 27, 2022, the local workers carried out a protest to demand better work safety regulations after a previous incident, in which two workers got killed due to an explosion at the plant.

Read also: Electric Vehicles, Batteries depending on mining nickel are often a heavily polluting enterprise

Chairman of the Morowali and North Morowali National Workers Union (SPN)’s Representative Council Katsaing made some statements, which shed light on the incident.

“From December 22 to December 24, 2022, fellow workers went on strike,” he told Tempo on January 17, 2023. “At that time, there were no (riot) incidents, because the Chinese foreign workers did not make efforts that might trigger it.”

Government’s leniency creates time bomb

The presence of Chinese investors, who are the biggest in Indonesia, particularly in labor intensive projects has often caused concerns and even protests from local people. In many cases, Indonesian workers are unable to fill in the vacant positions due to the investment deal.

This creates an air of hostility between domestic and foreign workers. The massive riot itself happened because the foreign workers tried to confront and block the domestic worker’s protest which lead to the deadly clash.

Read also: The state should serve as a mediator to prevent Morowali riot from recurring

Political Sociologist of the Jakarta State University (UNJ), Ubedilah Badrun, explained that sociologically, the clashes in Morowali were an accumulation of the disappointment of Indonesian workers towards their rights and the government’s leniency towards foreign workers.

“The time bomb occurred due to the government’s leniency towards Chinese workers, who now account for 55% of the total number of foreign workers. I think the Morowali case needs to be resolved more comprehensively,” he said as quoted by CNNIndonesia.com on January 17, 2023.

Separately, the University of Indonesia (UI) sociologist Ida Ruwaida explained that open conflicts such as in Morowali occurred because of an accumulation of dissatisfaction or disappointment.

“This dissatisfaction builds a sentiment. And the basis of the sentiment is identity,” she told CNNIndonesia.com.

Ruwaida highlighted the preventive measures that the government should have taken to anticipate conflicts between local and foreign workers. “The government and companies should have anticipated the potential conflict between [local and foreign] workers from the start, given their differences in social, cultural and even religious backgrounds.”

Hanif Muhammad

Journalist

yan

Editor

 

Interview

SUBSCRIBE NOW
We will provide you with an invoice for your reimbursable expenses.

Free

New to Indonesian market? Read our free articles before subscribing to the premium plan. If you already run your business in Indonesia, make sure to subscribe to the premium subscription so you won’t miss any intelligence & business opportunities.

Premium

$550 USD/Year

or

$45 USD/Month

Cancelation: you can cancel your subscription at any time, by sending us an email inquiry@ibp-media.com

Add keywords to your market watch and receive notification:
Schedule a free consultation with us:

We’ll contact you for confirmation.

FURTHER READING

Freeport Indonesia will complete it’s smelter construction by December 2023 ,coordinating minister of economic affair says PT Freeport Indonesia will complete the construction of it’s copper smelter in Gresik , East Java based on schedule. Coordinating Minister for Economic Affair Airlangga Hartarto said that the progress of Freeport’s smelter construction has reached 51.7% and will be completed on time by December 2023.
Gold and copper giant PT Freeport Indonesia cannot complete its smelter construction in Gresik, East Java, by December 2023 even though the government may impose sanction if the company failed to do so.
The overflow of made-in-China and local counterfeit products in Indonesia has resulted in economic losses for local businesses and international brands. The K&K Advocates-Intellectual Property said that Indonesia suffered financial losses of IDR 291 trillion (US$ 19.41 billion) due to fake goods in 2020. It was a sharp increase from 2015 when the country suffered losses of IDR 65.1 trillion.
Instead of terminating the copper concentrate exports of PT Freeport Indonesia (PTFI) and PT Amman Mineral Nusa Tenggara (AMNT), the government can impose sanction on the two giant gold and copper producers.
Lippo Group mega project Meikarta in Cikarang, Bekasi regency, has been involved in legal battle with consumers due to the company’s failure in delivering the property on time and the latter’s alleged defamation. The modern city project has been stalled because of corruption cases involving high-ranked officials at the developer and Bekasi regency.
Opposition leader says that President Jokowi’s son political ambition is a form of political dinasty that is inappropriate for Indonesia democracy.Chairman of Solo ‘s chapter of Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) Daryono said that President Joko Widodo’s sons Gibran Rakabuming Raka and Kaesang Pengarep plans to run for executive position in 2024 simultaneous regional election is inappropriate despite the fact that both of them have rights as citizen. ” Because they are Jokowi’s children, and Jokowi is still an active president with many things attached to him as president. It is something that is impossible to be separated from the political activities of his children,” he said to Indonesia Business Post on January ,27 ,2023.