Preventing forced labour at sea in Indonesia through labour inspections at Indonesian fishing ports
The ILO’s 8.7 Accelerator Lab Multi Partner Fund supports the efforts taken by relevant ministries in Indonesia to improve protection for Indonesian local and migrant fishers with an updated field guide for labour inspection, training and pilot joint-inspections in Benoa and Jakarta ports.
We understand that the fishing sector is unique and different from other industrial sectors on land where our inspectors are used to carrying out their duties. Thus, we greatly appreciate the support from the ILO and the updated Field Guide as an easy to use and concrete instrument for labour inspectors in this sector."Diah Tri Hartanti Prawitasari, a Mid-Level Expert of Labour Inspector of the Ministry of Manpower
The ILO has been supporting the Government with Strategic Compliance Planning for Labour Inspectors for a number of years now and has made considerable progress. To maintain this momentum, further refine tools such as the Field Guide for Carrying out Labour Inspection Visits On-board Fishing Vessels, and foster increased coordination, the ILO's 8.7 Accelerator Lab programme organised two capacity building workshops in the two ports of Benoa and Jakarta.
Forty-three labour inspectors and fishing inspectors from the Ministry of Manpower (MoM), the Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries (MMAF), the Ministry of Transportation (MT) and the Coordinating Ministry for Maritime and Investment (CMMI) participated in action-oriented workshops on the detection of forced labour, which included pilot joint-inspections from 22-23 September in Benoa port (Bali) and from 26-27 September in Jakarta port.
These activities aimed to provide guidance on the definition and indicators of forced labour, strategies and tools for detection on board fishing vessels and training on how to use the updated Field Guide for Carrying out Labour Inspection Visits On-board Fishing Vessels. The workshops also provided an opportunity to share and exchange knowledge, lessons learned and challenges among the relevant ministries to strengthen coordination and clarify roles and authorities in inspecting labour conditions in the fishing sector and further refine the Field Guide.
Alix Nasri, ILO 8.7 Accelerator Lab Global Coordinator, highlighted the vulnerability of fishers to forced labour. The 2021 Global Estimates of Modern Salary revealed that (at the very least) 128,000 fishers are trapped in forced labour aboard fishing vessels, often on the high seas, a workplace characterised by extreme isolation, hazardousness, and with gaps in regulatory oversight. Although no region of the world is spared from the scourge of forced labour, Asia and the Pacific has the highest number of people in forced labour.
The joint labour inspection system that is being piloted by MOM, MMAF and MT, therefore, is crucial and the ILO will work with Indonesia to strengthen this and make it sustainable."Alix Nasri, ILO 8.7 Accelerator Lab Global Coordinator
In terms of labour inspection, René Robert, ILO Senior Labour Inspection Specialist, shared some good practices from other countries in securing decent work for fishers and ensuring compliance with International Labour Standards in the fishing industry. One practice shared was from Thailand, a neighbouring country of Indonesia. “Thailand has made it a requirement that fishers must have not only a fishing book and a written contract, but also an electronic bank account for digital wage payments,” he explained, as a systemic approach to prevent non-payment of wages and labour exploitation and to facilitate labour inspection.
He also emphasized the need for strategic compliance planning by the labour inspectorate. Such an approach focuses on proactive, targeted and tailored interventions and engagement with multiple stakeholders. It gives labour inspectors numerous opportunities to influence improved and durable compliance outcomes in light of limited resources and the high number of workplaces to be inspected, including in the fishing industry.
During the workshop a good practice was also shared from South Africa as one of the target countries of ILO’s 8.7 Accelerator Lab programme. A similar training was also held by the ILO in collaboration with the South African Maritime Security Agency (SAMSA) to strengthen the integrated labour inspection with the Department of Employment and Labour, the Department of Home Affairs, the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and Environment and civil society.
ILO support for labour inspectionsThese workshops included pilot joint-labour inspections in the Benoa Port of Bali and the Nizam Zahman Oceanic Port of Jakarta. During the pilot inspections, the participating labour inspectors inspected both foreign and Indonesian fishing vessels. Using the updated Field Guide, MoM’s labour inspectors, supported by fisheries inspectors, examined the working and living conditions of fishers.
The labour inspectors did not only examine living conditions, facilities provided and occupational safety and health (OSH) gears at the fishing vessels, they also interviewed several fishers. The joint inspections found that, for the most part, the fishers had no understanding about their labour rights. It was common for them to have their wages withheld by their manning agency, work more than 14 hours a day and use some of their resting time to fish in order to gain additional income. Those interviewed had received no safety training, had no insurance and had not received a copy of their contract.
The guidelines used in the joint inspection has made me learn about labour related issues. We only focus on the conditions of the ships and their catches. I just learnt that withholding fishers’ wages is against the labour rights since for us, it is just a common practice in the fishing industry."Yogi Darmawan Effendi, Junior Expert of Fishing Inspection of the Directorate General of Surveillance and Control of Marine and Fishery Resources (PSDKP)
“The guidelines used in the joint inspection has made me learn about labour related issues. We only focus on the conditions of the ships and their catches. I just learnt that withholding fishers’ wages is against the labour rights since for us, it is just a common practice in the fishing industry,” he said.
Diah Tri Hartanti Prawitasari, a Mid-Level Expert of Labour Inspector of the Ministry of Manpower, said that the pilot joint-labour inspection was the first step towards a fully institutionalized collaboration among relevant ministries. “To implement the new Government Regulation No. 22/2022, relevant ministries should synergize to provide better placement and protection of fishing crews, including migrants,” she said.
She also thanked the support given by the ILO through the 8.7 Accelerator Lab programme. “We understand that the fishing sector is unique and different from other industrial sectors on land where our inspectors are used to carrying out their duties. Thus, we greatly appreciate the support from the ILO and the updated Field Guide as an easy to use and concrete instrument for labour inspectors in this sector.”