Harnessing workers’ inside knowledge to reduce risk in Indonesia’s garment factories

15 Dec 2016

15 December 2017.

Jakarta – Over 150 factory representatives in Indonesia joined a recent Better Work industry seminar on effective risk management during Better Work Indonesia’s 2016 Enterprise Forum. The training focused on key industry tools for managing different types of risk including occupational safety and health, human resources and operational business risks.

“Risk management is all about prevention, looking forward and taking ownership of issues. It also makes good business sense to put controls in place that limit the possibility of accidents, strikes, disputes and production interruptions,” said Jonas Astrup, Better Work’s Productivity Systems Specialist. “What makes our approach unique is that we have turned these tools into activities that can be easily explained and used in the worker management committee.”

The sessions, held in Central Java, West Java and Jakarta, highlighted the importance of social dialogue in helping workers and their representatives become actively involved in successfully identifying, analysing and managing risks. Workers can provide valuable information and insights on risk because of their daily experience with factory processes.   This knowledge is not readily obtained if the factories rely solely on external risk assessments.

During the training, factories also learned how to communicate to workers the methodology behind risk prioritisation and how controls are selected and implemented.

Gloria Chen, a manager of the factory PT Dragon Forever, part of the RSI Apparel group, thought the training was particularly good in addressing communication tools. “The session on risk management gave me insights on how such a heavy topic can be delivered to my team in a light, engaging way,” said Gloria.

The risk management industry seminar has now been run in all Better Work countries: Nicaragua, Haiti, Jordan, Vietnam, Cambodia, Bangladesh and Indonesia. Already in 2016, over 1,000 factory representatives have taken this training. These seminars were made possible with generous support from The Walt Disney Company’s International Labor Standards Group.

Better Work Indonesia’s 2016 Enterprise Forum

The event was also an opportunity to introduce enterprises to Better Work Indonesia’s strategy for 2017 onwards.

“Through the forum, we wanted to engage Indonesian enterprises in a discussion of  key priorities for BWI in 2017 based on our new factory service model,” explained BWI’s programme manager Maria João Vasquez.  “This includes service differentiation, public reporting, and information on the new price structure. Factories appreciated the opportunity to get further insights on public reporting and now fully understand how the BWI price structure works and has evolved through time – it is crucial for these key concepts and developments to be clearly understood by factories to ensure their full commitment. Factories were particularly enthusiastic about the concept of differentiation (see below), as that can save time spent on assessments.”

Seno Basuki, HR and compliance manager for PT Citra Abadi Sejati, a member of Busana Apparel Group, has been working with Better Work Indonesia since the beginning of the programme, six years ago. “Better Work Indonesia has helped the factory to establish foundation for a compliance system in the factory’s operation. Going forward with this new approach, BWI answers the needs of factories to make the compliance system more sustainable,” said Seno.

Better Work’s differentiation mode

With groundwork starting in 2017 and service differentiation officially available in Indonesia at the beginning of 2018, Better Work will differentiate factories depending on their level of development and performance. Factories that implement a risk management procedure will meet one of the requirements for moving to Stage Two of the Better Work model.

Stage Two factories, that is, factories with higher performance, will be offered a different service package, including:

♦ targeted advisory services
♦ the option to reduce assessments from once a year to every other year, provided that they continue to meet all of the required criteria
♦ exclusive access to special projects and publications, and
♦ enhanced visibility to buyers, including access to networking events.

Better Work will classify factories as being in “Stage Two” if they consistently demonstrate:

♦ high levels of compliance
♦ a mature level of social dialogue
♦ effective management systems and
♦ a commitment to learning for sustainable improvement.

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