Protecting Women Workers’ Rights In Oil Palm Plantations

Palm oil is one of the most important commodities for the Indonesian economy. The oil palm oil business is the biggest foreign exchange earner for Indonesian economy, with contribution in 2020 reaching US$ 22.97 billion or equivalent to Rp320,5 trillion. It also employs a total of 5.5 million workers or one tenth of national workforce absorption in the national formal industrial sector. The republic of Indonesia is also the largest producer and exporter of palm oil in the world.

Among the large number of workers absorbed by the Indonesian palm oil industry, women are an important part of it. Women workers participate in almost every stage of production in the palm oil industry. Starting from fertilizing, weeding, spraying and even participating in collecting the fallen palm fruits during harvesting time.

Considering such condition, GAPKI in collaboration with the forestry, wood and agriculture workers union and the confederation of all Indonesian labor unions (HUKATAN-KSBSI) and CNV, an international civil society organization with a mission to protect and promote workers’ rights,  write this practical guide. This guide aims to help the Indonesian palm oil industry to build a sustainable industry, which prioritizes the rights of women workers, including protection at work, equality of wages, and others. That way the Indonesian palm oil industry will become an industry that upholds the welfare of its workers and become more advanced in the future.

This is in line with the government’s program for the protection of women and children, mainstreaming equal opportunity for women, and building sustainable industries for the welfare of society and the progress of the nation.

Protecting female workers

Benefits of company’s written commitment

The first step in improving the working conditions of women workers is the designing and declaration of company commitments by the highest management. This is important to ensure that resources are allocated and that these commitments are carried out by all levels of management. It should be ensured that commitments are well communicated to all levels of management, employees and other stakeholders.

This commitment is the first step for the company Is to be ready to run a green and sustainable business that provides many benefits, including the following:

  1. For the workers: Company commitment can increase the comfort at work. Workers are proud to be part of the company which in turn can increase productivity.
  2. For the Government: The government will find it very helpful in carrying out its social policies, and good relations with the government are very important for companies.
  3. For the market: Policy commitment can enhance the company’s image, increase consumer confidence in buying / consuming the products produced by the company.

Consumers will believe that they contribute to improve working conditions in the palm oil sector, especially for women workers.

  1. For Suppliers and Business Association: Commitment can be a tool to ensure that suppliers and business association follow the same spirit. It is hoped that companies that are tied to supply chains can grow to be green and sustainable together.
  2. For the community: Written Commitment will give the confidence to the community about the benefits of having a company.

This written commitment should be socialized widely and thoroughly to all levels of the company, including to the workers, in order to increase the awareness of staff and workers about the rights of women workers and facilitate their implementation in the field.