The Palm Scribe

Sawit Watch : Omnibus Law Worsens Working Conditions for Female Oil Palm Workers

Photo: Sawit Watch

The Omnibus law that was passed earlier in October not only weakened the protection of workers in general but would also worsen working conditions for female workers in oil palm plantations, environmental and labor right activists said Friday (23/10.)

“The majority of female workers in oil palm plantations already work without receiving the permanent rights of workers, without work certainty, without wage certainty, without work contract documents and without adequate health protection. The Omnibus Law will make the conditions of female workers more vulnerable. We firmly reject the Omnibus Law,” Sawit Watch Executive Director Inda Fatinaware said.

Speaking in a press releases, Fatinaware said that the Omnibus Law provided legitimacy for lifting the limited period in work contracts, therefore leading to more work uncertainty. The law, she said, would also legitimize the exploitation of workers under precarious work contracts in the field of fertilizer applications and spraying, an area predominantly involving female workers who also are mostly day hires without any work certainty and vulnerable to sudden dismissals.

“The Omnibus Law also expand outsourcing practices. Sawit Watch is finding that female workers are groups of workers that are hired through a third party, without work certainty and clarity in their normative rights. This policy carries a huge potential of eliminating the rights for a permanent job for female workers and then also eliminate the health insurance for these female workers,” she added.

Many civilian societies are seeing the Omnibus Law as eliminating work and wage certainty, certainty of social and health protection and many have already expressed their rejection of the content of the law, including on the expansion of outsourcing practices, remuneration based on time and results, the reduction of compensations and others.

Hotler “Zidane” Pasaoran, a labor specialist with Sawit Watch said that the formulation of wages based on time units or result units have the potential of continuing the exploitation of unpaid workers in oil palm plantations.

“The determination of wages based on results have already been much criticized by labor unions. There are situation where the worker is unable to reach a certain result and this carries the potential of reducing their wages. Situations like these is resulting in there being no certainty on the wage they receive,” Zidane said.

He said that this policy had the potential of forcing workers to work overtime or being forced to involve the help of their wives to be able to meet their targeted results. “Women are then forced to work without pay so as to make sure that the right amount of pay is received,” Zidane said.

Fatinaware said that the government should come out with labor policies that could guarantee work certainty, fair wages and social and health insurance for female workers.

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