The Job Creation Law Protect Palm Oil Workers
Palm oil is the only vegetable oil that has a sustainability certification such as ISPO and RSPO. Indonesian government has also adopted the goals of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in the ISPO certification system so that it can be used as a standard for the palm oil industry to produce palm oil in a sustainably, both in economic, social and environmental aspects.
One of the important aspects in both the SDGs and ISPO is the social aspect, especially related to the workforce on oil palm plantations. This is an important focus given the large number of direct workers involved in oil palm plantations, especially state and private companies, which is estimated to reach 4.45 million people.
In addition, the issue of oil palm plantation workers has also begun to become a theme in the black campaign spread by anti-palm oil NGOs in the last several years. For example, the Association Press (AP) publication accuses the existence of exploitation of women and child labor in oil palm plantations. Not only that, labor issues are also used as a trade barrier imposed by palm oil importing countries, such as the case of prohibiting imports of CPO from Malaysian companies, namely Sime Darby Plantation and FGV Holdings in the United States. This shows that labor issues are not only used to “attack” the palm oil industry but also target companies.
The Indonesian Palm Oil Association (GAPKI) has made various efforts to counter the black campaigns using labor issues in oil palm plantations by showing their commitment to ensuring that GAPKI member companies are unlikely to engage in labor practices that violate laws and ISPO’s principles. GAPKI’s commitment is shown by issuing a “Practical Guide to Protecting the Rights of Women Workers in Oil Palm Plantations”.
The commitment of palm oil industry players to protect their workers is also supported by the Indonesian Government through the Job Creation Law. The attention of palm oil stakeholders regarding the Job Creation Law in protecting their workers and realizing decent work in the palm oil industry is a topic of discussion in the Borneo Forum Webinar.
One of the objectives of the issuance of the Job Creation Law is to ensure the protection of workers in order to retain their rights. Even so, it does not mean that the Job Creation Law replaces all the articles in the Manpower Law (Law No. 13/2003). As explained in the explanation by the Director of Labor Norms Inspection, Yuli Adiratna, in this webinar, where only a few articles were changed, added, and deleted. So that if there are articles that are not deleted through the Job Creation Law, then UU 13/2003 is still valid.
The provisions stipulated in this law, among others, relate to working hours, structure and scale of wages, as well as regulating work agreements or work relations. The derivative of this law in both the Government Regulation (PP) and the Collective Labor Agreement also regulates matters that have not been regulated in the Manpower Law, such as menstrual rest and leave before and after childbirth.
The interesting thing is that after the enactment of the Job Creation Law for those workers with the agreement of fixed-term work status (in Bahasa: Perjanjian Kerja Waktu Tertentu/PKWT). After they have completion of the period and then they will get compensation funds. This is an important point, which means that there has been progressing in protecting workers, and especially for non-permanent workers because previously had no attention in providing compensation.
However, related to the derivative of Government Regulations of the Job Creation Law, namely Government Regulation No. 35/2021 concerning workers with agreement of fixed-term work (PKWT) status which has no limited period, JAPBUSI as the Indonesian Palm Oil Workers Union gave another response where it should be made to provide protection and welfare to workers with a maximum period limit period in the contract so that workers can have legal certainty and the opportunity to become permanent employees.
With the issuance of the Job Creation Law and its derivative regulations related to workers, it is hoped that it will be able to improve, enhance, and protect the rights of the two parties, specifically oil palm plantation companies and workers so that a decent work ecosystem can be created in the palm oil industry. In addition, this regulation is also expected to be the answer to the black campaign that uses labor issues so that it can improve the image of the national palm oil industry in the global market.
To make this hope is not just a daydreaming, it requires synergy and cooperation between oil palm plantation companies and workers to improve compliance with labor-related regulations.
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