Identifying, supporting and scaling solutions that improve the lives of rural workers in Indonesia.

The Challenge

The palm sector is a linchpin of the Indonesian economy, employing over 5.7 million people across the country and lifting scores of rural dwellers out of poverty. However, many workers within the supply chain still experience precarious employment, as well as poor living conditions.

Leading palm companies have taken significant steps to adopting occupational health and safety measures, as well as to provide health and educational services. But the challenges affecting the Indonesian palm oil sector are systemic. They cannot be effectively addressed by siloed approaches. Nor by palm oil companies alone.

What we did

In January 2018, Cargill, Golden Agri-Resources (GAR), Musim Mas, Sime Darby Plantations and Wilmar agreed to embark on a pre-competitive collaboration to collectively address systemic labour rights challenges within the sector, with the support of Forum for the Future. 

Since then, growers have engaged with a broad range of stakeholders* to provide insights, influence and experience in dealing with issues affecting workers and their families, to help identify the best areas for a pre-competitive collaboration.

As an outcome of these consultative efforts, four potential areas for collaboration were identified:

  1. Developing a rights awareness platform, with a focus on occupational health and safety
  2. Increasing telecommunications connectivity in rural locations
  3. Spearheading a social dialogue process with unions and workers across South Sumatra in support of a Collective Bargaining Agreement
  4. Improving family well-being on concession lands

These pre-competitive collaborative solutions create impact in three ways:

  1. Sharing data within the group to implement solutions on a bigger scale and learning from good practices of participating growers.
  2. Providing tools to understand and measure long-term impact for existing projects.
  3. Each component serves to complement the others and collectively contribute to support to Decent Rural Living in a tangible and systemic way. 

* Those participating in interviews and multi-stakeholder meetings included: APINDO, Business and Human Rights Resource Centre, CIFOR, Fair Labour Association, CNV International, DWWG, FOKSBI, GAPKI, HRWG, ICCO, ILO, ISPO, LINKS, OPPUK, Oxfam, Sawit Watch, UNDP and UNICEF.

Image credit: Solidarity Centre