For specific guidance related to the Covid-19 pandemic, click here.

Varying labour conditions and a largely female workforce define Indonesia’s garment sector

Indonesia’s garment industry at a glance

The garment industry in Indonesia is relatively small compared to other industries in the country, but it still makes up a significant portion of global exports. It’s also a large employer of women, with recent reports showing women making up 60% of the workforce in the garment industry. Production in the country is concentrated around West Java, Greater Jakarta and Batam.

Labour issues in Indonesia’s garment industry

Conditions in garment factories vary widely across Indonesia. They are generally much worse in medium and small-sized factories, which do not attract the same kinds of scrutiny as large factories that produce garments for international brands. In recent years, the industry has received a great deal of attention from international and local NGOs and trade unions, with a range of private initiatives, such as Better Work Indonesia, the Freedom of Association Protocol (FoA) and the Asia Floor Wage, taking action to improve working conditions in garment factories.

There is still, however, much work to be done in factories of Fair Wear suppliers across the country. Price competition is driving many factories to move to areas with lower minimum wage requirements, which is pushing wages down across the industry. The government is not enforcing existing laws on freedom of association, overtime, and legal employment contracts, and there’s a pressing need for better health and safety standards across the board. Workers in garment factories across the country report experiences of workplace violence and sexual harassment.

What Fair Wear is doing

Fair Wear has been active in Indonesia since 2016, with 12 Fair Wear member brands sourcing from 30 factories. With an active Workplace Education Programme and audit and training teams on the ground, we engage directly with our factories and member brands across the country.

One key element of our work in Indonesia is our Gender Network Platform, an initiative we launched in 2017. The platform brings together trade unions, international organisations, ministries and the country’s National Human Rights Commission to work on gender issues. Its first goals are to push the government to pass a bill against sexual violence and to ratify the International Labour Organization’s Violence and Harassment in the World of Work convention—two important steps that will put pressure on factories to improve working conditions. The network also supports factories and workers through complaints helplines and other tools that improve worker-management communication and empower workers to speak up.

The FoA Protocol is another unique initiative that supports Fair Wear member brands and factories in Indonesia. The protocol is a guideline for how factories and trade unions can work together to create better working conditions. It arose through negotiations between national trade unions and member brands sourcing in the country and is supported by Fair Wear partners, CNV Internationaal and Mondiaal FNV. Itprovides tools for factory management and trade unions to negotiate more effectively for the rights of workers.

All of this work is made more impactful by the Fair Wear Strategic Partnership and the fact that Indonesia is the only country where all partner members have an on-the-ground presence. This makes it easier for actors at every level of the supply chain in Indonesia to work together on these issues.

Interested in calculating labour minute value and product costing for this country? Check out our country calculators here.


Mapping Social Dialogue in Apparel: Indonesia

This report looks at the case of Indonesia as part of the Social Dialogue in the 21st Century project, a collaboration between the New Con…

Brands sourcing from Indonesia