Garment Forced Labour

12/13 Forced Labour in Garment

Garment Forced Labour

What is forced labour?

Forced labour is work exacted under the threat of penalty where workers doesn't have freedom to agreed on implementation of the work

What are the causes of forced labour?

There are several factors that lead to forced labor in Indonesia, which are:

  • High unemployment rates. This makes prospective workers to be "submissive" to any job opportunities and working conditions
  • Little consciousness amongst employers regarding workers' rights as regulated under Labour Law
  • Lack of supervision from the department of manpower and lack of legal protection for workers"

What types of activities fall under the definition of forced labour in the garment industry?

Here are some examples of forced labor that can occur in the garment sector:

  • Restrictions on the movement of workers - preventing workers from leaving the workplace
  • Threatening violence against workers to make them work.
  • Forced labour related to debt – providing excessive salary advances that make workers indebted so that it is difficult for them to freely leave their jobs.
  • Withholding wages
  • Confiscation or denying workers access to their personal documents (such as birth certificate, school certificate or an identity card) in order to keep them on the job.
  • Forcing workers to work overtime beyond legal limits by threatening with dismissal or no future overtime."

Does Labour Law prohibit practice of forced labor in the garment sector?

Forced or compulsory labour is prohibited by Labour Law and Indonesian Constitution. In addition, Indonesia has ratified two ILO conventions on the prohibition of forced labor, namely the Forced Labour Convention No. 29 year 1930, and Abolition of Forced Labor Convention No. 105 year 1957

Are there any penalties if employers apply forced labour?

Applying forced or compulsory labour is punishable by 3 to 15 years of imprisonment and a fine of IDR 120 million to 600 million ($10,500 to $52,500).

Forms of Forced Labour in Garment Industry

Are long working hours that often happen in garment sector also considered forced labour?

Basically, overtime work is voluntary. It means that if the workers do not want to do overtime work the company cannot force them. If employers require workers to work more than 40 hours/week without the agreement of the workers and overtime pay, then it can be categorized as forced labor.

Can the practice of outsourcing work be seen as a form of forced labour?

The outsourcing system is defined as having work that was formerly done inside the organization performed by an external organization/a service provider entity. The practice of outsourcing allows a company to take the workers through a third party or intermediary. Simply put, the workers do not work directly for the company, but through the intermediary service provider. Within the company, this socalled “outsource worker”, is only regarded as additional labour. Therefore, from the company point of view, an outsource worker does not have ties with the company.

The outsourcing system harms outsource workers and violate their human rights, as outsource workers are often discriminated against or treated differently from permanent workers. Permanent workers usually get allowances, severance pay and leave, which outsource workers do not get.

These outsource workers are forced to work with contract employment status despite its poor working conditions, low wages, because of their weak bargaining power as they cannot join a union."

What is bonded labour?

Bonded labour means that workers cannot freely terminate their employment as a result of debt owed to the employer or employment agency. Workers can become indebted to their employer and/or a recruitment agency if they are required to pay excessive recruitment fees. They also may become indebted to the employer if the employer provides excessive non-cash benefits (e.g., food and housing), salary advances, or other loans.

What can be done by a worker against forced labour?

If a company is conducting forced labour, a worker can report the problem directly to the labor inspector who is available at the manpower office at the Provincial level.