Thursday, September 21, 2006

Yogyakarta Sheraton Workers Still Waiting for Starwood to Pay for Post-Earthquake Home Reconstruction

Posted to the IUF website on 11-Sep-2006

Workers at the Yogyakarta Sheraton Mustika Resort– Indonsian-owned but managed by the transnational hotel chain Starwood – continue their struggle for justice in the aftermath of the May 27 earthquake in which the hotel building suffered extensive damage and had to be closed. The workers are organized in the SPM Sheraton Mustika Yogyakarta, a member of the IUF-affiliated HRCT federation FSPM.

Until August 31, the union was struggling on two fronts. In accordance with the pattern established in negotiations with other leading Yogyakarta hotels which were wholly or partially closed following the earthquake, the union had been demanding that Sheraton Mustika workers be paid basic wages and benefits during reconstruction, that reinstatement be guaranteed upon reopening and that the hotel pay for rebuilding employees' destroyed and damaged homes. The negotiated arrangement has been for local owners to pay wages and benefits while financial support for rebuilding workers' homes has been assumed by the transnational chains who manage the properties.

Four family members of employees of the Sheraton Mustika were killed in the earthquake, 10 employees’ houses were completely destroyed and 58 were partially damaged (the picture shows union member Susanto, who works in the engineering department, in front of his destroyed home).

The Sheraton's owner had refused to negotiate with FSPM representations and resisted the union's demands on wages and benefits, offering only 25% of the basic wage and refusing to pay for health insurance. When the union rejected these conditions, management withdrew all other proposals and decided to submit the offer to each worker individually - with the warning that there would be no automatic reinstatement at the reopening of the hotel for those employees who rejected the offer.

The union and the federation fought back by organizing local demonstrations and staging a highly effective protest and street theater action at the Miss Indonesia Pageant in Jakarta on August 25, sponsored by the Yogyakarta Sheraton owner who is also a member of parliament and owns the country's leading cosmetics company.

On August 31, the hotel signed an agreement with the federation and the local union meeting the workers' key demands on wages and benefits.

Starwood, however, has not responded to the union’s calls for financial support for the rebuilding of workers’ damaged or destroyed homes, nor to similar communications from the IUF. FSPM-affiliated unions have negotiated satisfactory agreements on reconstruction with Accor, Hyatt and Sol Melia managements of local hotel properties. Starwood – which in addition to Sheraton owns the Westin, Four Points, W Hotels, St. Regis and The Luxury Collection brands –apparently views housing as a luxury for the workers on whom its upscale brands rely for their successful operations.

The Sheraton Mustika workers and the FSPM are calling for international support for their local and national campaign.

  • Click here to send a message to Starwood's Asia/Pacific and corporate managements, telling them to follow the practices of other global hotel brands following the Yogyakarta disaster. Copies will automatically be sent to the union and to the IUF.

    We thank you in advance for your solidarity and support.

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