Industry alliance writes Indonesian government over proposed threat to workers’ rights

A group of garment brands, civil society organisations and business associations has sent a letter to Indonesian president, Joko Widodo, and Speaker of the People’s Representative Council, Puan Maharani. In the letter, the group – which includes Fair Wear and several of its member brands – expresses concern over the Labour Cluster of the proposed Omnibus Law on Job Creation.

A number of Fair Wear’s member brands source from Indonesia. These brands are actively working towards improving labour conditions in their factories, ensuring workers have job stability and making steps towards paying living wages. The efforts made by these brands are being contradicted by the Indonesian government through these proposed legislative changes. This will result in these brands and other industry influencers having to work even harder, through new initiatives, to continue improving the lives and working conditions of the people that make our clothes.

With the Omnibus Law – so-called because if passed it will amend dozens of employment laws – the government hopes to attract new foreign investment and create jobs in Indonesia. While the group fully supports the objectives of this legislation overall, it believes that many of the provisions in the proposed Omnibus Bill’s Labour Cluster would obstruct the continuous protection of fundamental workers’ rights in Indonesia. For example, the proposed changes will get rid of the 58-hour work week as well as monthly legal minimum wages, opting instead for hourly or daily rates. This means that workers will likely work more excessive overtime, for less income, without much in the way of job security. And what does this mean for consumers? Should this law pass, it opens the door for garment factories to lower their standards. The label ‘Made in Indonesia’ will come with the bigger risk that our shoes and clothes are being made in more unethical conditions.

Furthermore, the letter’s signatories deplore the fact that trade unions were not sufficiently consulted in the drafting of this bill. Trade unions are integral in representing the workers’ voice, and as such it is imperative that they are fully involved when drafting any laws that directly affect workers’ rights.

Therefore, the alliance calls for Widodo’s government to ensure that any amendments to current labour laws resulting from the Omnibus Bill remain consistent with international standards of upholding workers’ rights. This includes assurances for reasonable working hours, decent wages and job security, among others. Fair Wear, along with its partners, brands and co-signatories of this letter, implores the Indonesian government to rethink these proposed legislative changes in full cooperation with trade unions and business associations in order to safeguard the fundamental rights of Indonesian workers.

Read the letter in full here.

Photo source: Detik France