The Coalition of Oil Palm Labor is marking International Women Day by calling for the Indonesian palm oil industry to halt all discrimination against female labor in oil palm plantations.
“The Coalition of Oil Palm Labor is calling on the Government to come out with policies that protect oil palm labor. Discrimination and the vulnerability of women labor in oil palm plantation must be halted,” Hotler “Zidane” Pasaoran, Coordinator of the Coalition said in a press release sent to The Palm Scribe Monday (9/3).
In the release, the Coalition said it had found exploitative work practices in oil palm plantations that have been ongoing for a long time. In this system, workers worked without work certainty, wage certainty, heavy workload and without adequate social insurance.
Inda Fatinaware, Executive Director of Sawit Watch said that the coalition noted that at least 60 percent of the workforce in oil palm plantations were women and that 60 percent of them were precariat labor working without permanent labor rights, work certainty, work contract, under minimal wages and without adequate health insurance.
“We see this as a form of discrimination against women labor,” Fatinaware said.
Suib Nuridho from the Plantation Worker Union of Indonesia (SBPI) said that the coalition has found facts that precariat workers were being exploited in maintenance works at oil palm plantations.
“Women are beeing made to work to conduct spraying, fertilizing, cleaning of areas, piking up fallen fruits and other works which ironically are not seen as core works in oil palm plantations. They do not have the certainty that they can get work the following day and therefore there is no wage certainty. It is clear that this condition constitute a violation of labor rights regarding work certainty and wage,” Nuridho said.
Ismet Inoni who heads the Organization Department of the Indonesian Labor Union Association (GSBI) said that not all oil palm plantation provided adequate protection equipment and or adequate information on the potential dangers and impact of toxic substances used and that women labor in the maintenance department were vulnerable to being exposed to toxic substances.
Andi Akbar from the Trade Union Rights Centre (TURC) said that the commitment of the government and of corporations in protecting the labor force in oil palm plantations, especially women labor, was till low.
“The government, for example, in all discussions on the palm oil industry, never touches on the protection of labor. It even comes up with policies which only worsen working conditions,” Akbar said.
He said that the extension of outsourcing as contained in the draft Omnibus Law on Job Creation, for example, would only exacerbate the vulnerability of women labor in oil palm plantations.
“The Coalition of Oil Palm Labor demand that the Government of Indonesia put orders into its manpower system so as to position labors as subjects with a fair livelihood,” Zidane said.
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