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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.
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.
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.