Jakarta Port Workers Strike, Demand CEO to Step Down

Published Dec 23, 2013 8:32 AM by The Maritime Executive

More than a hundred workers at Indonesia's biggest port in Jakarta have gone on strike demanding the port operator CEO step down, but authorities said shipping operations were unaffected on Monday.

Indonesia is the world's largest palm oil producer, No. 2 for rubber and robusta coffee and No. 3 for cocoa. It is also the world's top exporter of refined tin, nickel ore and thermal coal.

The strike at Jakarta's Tanjung Priok port, which handles around 50 percent of oil, containers, and dry bulk goods in and out of Indonesia, started late Sunday and is expected to continue until Tuesday evening, union officials said.

"I've been at the Tanjung Priok site since 3 a.m. and everything is running as normal," Rima Novianti, corporate secretary for port operator PT Pelabuhan Indonesia II (Pelindo) told Reuters.

"There are strikes but they are only limited to a small number of personnel," said Novianti.

Global commodity markets were not impacted by the strike, traders said.

Port workers union chief Kirnoto told Reuters he hoped more union members from other ports would also take action.

The union is demanding the resignation of Pelindo CEO R.J Lino, who they blame for a lack of transparency issues surrounding the expansion plans at Tanjung Priok.

Pelindo is scrambling to expand and modernize its port facilities at Tanjung Priok, as it struggles to meet rising demand following years of economic growth above 6 percent.

The port operator said they were aware of the union's demands but that it was up to the government to decide on Lino.

"There has been a huge transformation recently in the operations with human capital and port facilities development," Novianti said. "Some of the workers are unhappy with that transformation."

Union strikes at the port are not unusual, with the last one occurring in June without any disruption to operations.

The company expects the first phase of its new Kalibaru Port to begin operations by 2017, which will add 4.5 million twenty-foot equivalent units (TEU) worth of capacity to the existing Tanjung Priok port.

Tanjung Priok handled 5.7 million TEUs in 2011 and is expected to handle 7.2 million TEUs this year, straining its capacity.

By Fathiyah Dahrul and Kanupriya Kapoor (C) Reuters 2013.