Jakarta, Indonesia – With support from its members and clients, Earthworm Foundation has developed resources to help Indonesian oil palm plantations protect workers' rights and improve working conditions.
Given the size and importance of the industry in Indonesia, palm oil businesses can have a huge impact in improving the lives of workers and their children. According to 2018 data from the Indonesian Social Development and Planning Agency (BAPPENAS), the palm oil industry employs about 16.2 million people. In 2018, these 16.2 million people made up 42 percent of those employed in agriculture, forestry and fisheries in Indonesia, and 13 percent of total employment in the country.
Since 2017, Earthworm has visited and held workshops with plantation companies in the key production regions of North Sumatra, East Kalimantan and Aceh, Indonesia. Through this work, we found a risk of serious labour issues in the supply chain. These risks include child labour, low wages, excessive working hours and ‘invisible’ family workers – driven by high work targets – and unfair employment conditions for casual daily workers.
Such issues are often linked to companies’ lack of awareness on how to identify labour risks and resolve them where they exist. To address this gap and support improving practices, three guidelines were developed to improve workers' rights and working conditions on Indonesian oil palm plantations. Available in English and Bahasa Indonesia, the guidelines are aligned with the RSPO (Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil) principles and criteria, ISPO (Indonesian Sustainable Palm Oil) standards, and Indonesian employment regulations.
From a business perspective, these guidelines can help plantations reduce their exposure to legal and reputational risks, as well as helping those who want to meet certification standards.
It is hoped that palm oil companies – including small and medium-sized ones – benefit from these guidelines, said Janhavi Naidu, programme lead for Earthworm's human rights work.
"We believe that, with the right support, companies can address these issues and have a direct impact on their employees and the Indonesian palm oil sector," Ms. Naidu said.
The resources can be found here:
- Mitigating Risk of Child Labour in Oil Palm Plantations
- Fair Employment of Casual and Temporary Workers
- Fair Target-Setting and Wage Policies
- Mitigasi Risiko Pekerja Anak di Perkebunan Kelapa Sawit
- Penggunaan Sistem Pekerja Harian Lepas di Perusahaan Kelapa Sawit
- Penetapan Kebijakan Target Kerja dan Pengupahan untuk Perkebunan Kelapa Sawit
Earthworm also invites feedback on these guidelines.