Advancing Workers' Rights in Indonesia's Palm Oil Sector

The overall objective of the project is to ensure that Indonesian unions in the palm oil supply chain effectively advocate for their members’ access to fundamental workers’ rights, in particular freedom of association and collective bargaining.

Project Synopsis

The project’s objective is to ensure that Indonesian unions in the palm oil supply chain effectively advocate for their members’ access to fundamental workers’ rights, in particular freedom of association and collective bargaining. This initiative builds on the ongoing ILO work in Indonesia’s palm oil sector and aims to help to improve workers’ access to labour rights (and better-quality jobs), contributing to improved compliance, through strengthened capacity of enterprises to implement core labour standards and national labour laws, and to expanded rule of law at both national and local levels. It will do so by inter alia promoting social dialogue and strengthening the capacity of unions to effectively engage in it with employers and government and advocate for their members; supporting the strengthening and enforcement of national legislation on labour issues and collecting and disseminating knowledge on employment and labour issues in the palm oil supply chain.

The proposed project will therefore help to improve workers’ access to labour rights – and, correspondingly, to better-quality jobs, contributing to improved compliance, through strengthened capacity of enterprises to implement core international labour standards and national labour laws, and to expanded rule of law at both national and local levels. It will do so by inter alia facilitating social dialogue at the national and provincial/local levels; strengthening the capacity of labour unions to effectively engage in dialogue with the employers and government and advocate for their members; supporting the strengthening and enforcement of national legislation on labour issues and collecting and disseminating knowledge on employment and labour issues in the palm oil supply chain. In addition to plantations, the project will be targeting crude palm oil (CPO) factories, oleo chemical factories, as well as selected food and beverage industry actors which use palm oil as one of the main ingredients.

The project will build on the ongoing Dutch-funded ILO initiative on the promotion of decent work in the palm oil sector, which covers the period of March 2017-June 2019. This ongoing project follows a two-pronged strategy, which distinguishes between the “institutional development” component and the “direct support” component. The former aims at advancing the functioning of the rural labour market by strengthening the capacity of government and all relevant stakeholders to address decent work deficits facing the rural economy. The latter focuses on the implementation of integrated measures to promote productive employment at the enterprise/plantation level. It includes targeted action to tackle specific problems faced by enterprises/plantations, as well as smallholders engaged in the palm oil sector, with particular attention being paid to youth and women. The proposed project will follow the same two-pronged strategy, which would combine upstream and downstream level work. This approach will help ensure long-term sustainability of the interventions, while enabling the project to demonstrate concrete achievements on the ground. National-level activities will be implemented in Jakarta. Activities at the provincial and local level will be implemented in Sumatra (North and South) and West Kalimantan.

Project Strategy

The proposed project results will be achieved through the activities described under the respective outcomes and outputs, as follows:

Outcome 1: In-depth knowledge is generated about opportunities and challenges for the promotion of freedom of association and collective bargaining and effective social dialogue in the sector

Outcome 2: National-level coordination and engagement among trade unions in the palm oil supply chain and their capacity to advocate for their members is strengthened through the effective functioning of the national union network

Outcome 3: At the enterprise/local level, labour unions and workers in the sectors/sub-sectors of the palm oil supply chain, in particular plantation workers, have better capacity to advocate for and access their rights

Outcome 4: Sound industrial relations are facilitated through strengthened capacity of the tripartite constituents to participate meaningfully in social dialogue.

Key Partners

  • Ministry of Manpower
  • Ministry of Agriculture
  • Coordinating Ministry of Economic Affairs
  • Trade Union Confederations and Federations
  • Indonesia Trade Union Networks in Palm Oil
  • Indonesian Employers' Organization (Apindo) 
  • Indonesia Palm Oil Association (GAPKI)