In marking the 2019 May Day, the Oil Palm Labor Coalition (KBS) is calling for better and more effective government protection for them.

The coalition is calling on the government to provide this protection through the issuance of special regulations governing the specific rights of labor at oil palm plantations, said a press release issued by the coalition, received by the Palm Scribe on Thursday (2/5).

“There is no specific regulation governing the rights of oil palm workers in a fair manner,” the release said.

It added that at present, oil palm workers are governed under Law number 13/2003 on Manpower which they claimed have failed to protect oil palm workers because it was prepared on the basis of the manufacturing sector in mind.

The labor coalition is arguing that the nature of the work of oil palm plantation workers was really different from those in the manufacturing sector, as they needed more calories, a workload based on a number of targets such as tonnage, area coverage and work hours, and workers in oil palm plantation were sociologically working in isolation from the outside world.

The coalition also called on the government to make sure that the labor regulations are implemented and to firmly act against palm oil companies which clearly do not comply with the agreements that had been reached between the labor union and the government, including by revising the supervision mechanism.

“Calling on the government to revise the mechanism of labor supervision, especially the supervision at oil palm plantations which have unique criteria and wide coverage,” the release said.

The government, they added, should also ratify the ILO Convention number 110/1958 on the plantation as well as convention number 184/2001 on the Health and Work Safety at plantations.

The coalition also calls for the financial institutions to adopt and implement good governance principles and social responsibility by not issuing loans to oil palm companies that are proven not to honor the rights of their labor, as well as to encourage debtors from the oil palm sector to adopt and implement those principles as part of requirements for partnership.

“The Coalition of Oil Palm Labor sees that financial institutions, as investors, can intervene in the policies of oil palm plantation through capital loans and profit sharing schemes that could indirectly lead to an improvement for labor at the company level,” the coalition said.

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