Palm oil watchdog Sawit Watch is airing concerns that a plan by the Ministry of Manpower to revise the Law on Manpower could lead to the legitimation of unfair manpower practices.
“The revision of the Law on Manpower is giving rise to concern that it would legitimize manpower practices that have so far been unfair,” Sawit Watch Executive Director Inda Fatinaware said in a written statement sent to the Palm Scribe on Monday (9/12).
The ministry, when recently presenting its revision of the law through the Omnibus Law on the Creation of Employments, said that it deemed the Law on Manpower as being not adaptive to the demands of investors.
“The government stated that the revision is being done because of problems in the field of manpower, that the Law was not adaptive to the demands of investments. This shows that the government is so far only accommodating the proposals of entrepreneurs. The government is not listening to the proposals of workers,” Inda said.
She said that she suspected the Omnibus Law was legitimizing the various proposals that were submitted by the associations of entrepreneurs to the president during their meeting in July 2019 that had been rejected by workers.
The proposals included the expansion of sectors where outsourcing would be allowed, on the length of contracts and arrangements related to compensation.
“In the oil palm plantation sector, these proposals can really become a burden for workers, especially women workers. Most women workers are not under a permanent work status and therefore the proposal to expand the outsourcing sectors and the expansion of contract periods would only legitimize the precariat status of women workers,” she added.
Zidane, a labor specialist of Sawit Watch who is also the Coordinator of the Oil Palm Labor Coalition (KBS) said that the precariat status is one of the main problems affecting labor in the oil palm plantation sector.
“The massive number of daily labor, piecemeal workers, contract labor, workers with unclear work contracts are clear facts in oil palm plantation. Are those what the government and corporations mean by manpower problem and therefore, those practices are being justified through the Omnibus Law?” asked Zidane in the same written statement.
He said that the government has been talking a lot about ease of investment but never on the matter of the welfare of workers.
“We are worried that the law on the Creation of employments will disadvantage oil palm workers, legitimize exploitative work practices in oil palm plantations,” he added
Inda said that economic growth should not become a reason for ignoring the rights of workers.
“The government should come out with policies protecting workers in oil palm plantation, and not only come out with regulations to facilitate investment,” she said.