Indonesia Business Forum 2018: Scaling up collaboration to achieve greater impact

15 Oct 2018

Indonesia’s garment sector is ranked among the top ten largest textile producing countries and the main contributor to the national economy. Better Work Indonesia continuously empowers local garment business to be succeed in global garment industry through its annual Indonesia Business Forum.

Around 150 representatives of national and international garment industries in Indonesia, including partners from governments, employer associations, trade unions as well as international brands and suppliers, attended the annual Indonesia Business Forum held from 19-20 September 2018 in Jakarta. The Forum was aimed to hare progress made by national stakeholders in addressing top labour issues affecting the garment sector and the common approaches being adopted to achieve greater impact.

Conducted by Better Work Indonesia, the Forum provided a venue for participants to review progress made in the garment industry, shared successful and best practices and highlighted the role of social dialogue to address issue in garment sector and gender.

Muhdori, Director of the Textile, Leather, Footwear and Multifarious Industry, Ministry of Industry, appreciated the export target achieved by the garment and footwear industry. “I congratulated the industry to achieve the export target of USD 15 billion in 2018. Thus, it is important for the textiles entrepreneurs in this forum to continue building the textile industry from upstream to downstream,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Indonesian Employers’ Association (Apindo) emphasized the opportunity for Indonesia to increase its export share. “The rising of labor wages in China has caused China’s manufacturing industry beginning to shift to a more high-value-added industry. As a result, China’s textile exports began to decline since 2015,” said Anne Patricia Sutanto, Advisory Board Member of Apindo, adding that the Indonesian textile export until the second quarter of 2018 has surpassed the growth in the same quarter of previous year.

Improving social dialogue and gender equality

To improve the labour compliance at the garment industry, the Forum introduced the technical guidelines of non-permanent employment contract in an export oriented garment factories, jointly developed by the Better Work Indonesia and the Ministry of Manpower. The Guidelines have been developed with the involvement of factories, workers and government at both national and local level.

“This guideline is an example of using social dialogue in solving compliance issues in the garment sector. It aims to address misunderstanding and clarify regulatory ambiguity so that more factories are in compliance in the use of these contracts,” said Albert Y. Bonasahat, the Better Work Indonesia National Project Coordinator. He added that improvements in compliance to labour standards not only improves factories competitiveness, but also to provide better conditions for garment workers.

Addressing gender imbalance in regards to wages, working conditions and benefits, the representative from the Ministry of Manpower highlighted the priorities of the government to enhancing knowledge of local manpower inspectors, strengthening law enforcement on gender balance and supporting the Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) task force. “The Ministry of Manpower encourage all stakeholders to share issues related gender balance. We will help to provide mechanism if gender equality issues happen in the private sector,” stated Retno Pratiwi, Head of Sub Directorate Equality Labor Norm, Labour Norm Directorate of Ministry of Manpower.

Responding to the gender equality related issues, the ILO-BWI programme recently renewed its strategic focus on gender equality and women’s economic empowerment by putting women at the center stage of all aspects of its work. The ILO-BWI also established a sexual harassment awareness and prevention programme called RESPECT (Responsible Effort for Safe, protective and Ethical Culture). “This is to equip women workers to have knowledge about their rights and the procedures they need to report and get cases addressed,” explained Albert.

Greater international brands and suppliers involvement in labour compliance

On the second day, the Forum examined efforts to improve factories about compliance as well as performance and competitiveness. Kesava Murali, Better Work’s Technical Specialists, highlighted the services that could be given by the programme to improve social dialogue, bipartite cooperation and labour compliance at the factory level. Some of the services discussed were road map to high performance factory and the role of mini enterprise advisor aimed to help improving the factory compliance.

“Through advisory and training services, Better Work will help factories create their own road map for working towards High Performance Factories,” said Murali. He also added that through differentiation framework, Better Work provide services to individual factory based on its need and performance.

Mini enterprise advisors are factory workers who are trained by Better Work Indonesia and are appointed to be the internal labour compliance advisors. Appreciating the more involvement of the factories as part of the international brands and suppliers in the labour compliance process, Dedi Wahyudi, HSE and Compliance Manager in an apparel company said that “It is really important to find and create champions of factories’ enterprise advisors to improve compliance within the factory by implementing, among others, a good internal monitoring.”

It concluded with the commitment from global brands and suppliers to build closer collaboration with Better Work Indonesia on joint advisory, joint training and capacity building to support factories improvement in their supply chain to finally become high performing factories.

“Better Work is all about bring together key actors for change in the garment sector. We mobilize global brands, retailers, governments, factory owners and workers to improve working conditions but also to drive competitiveness,” concluded Maria João Vasquez, Better Work Indonesia Programme Manager.

Better Work – a collaboration between the United Nations’ ILO and the International Finance Corporation, a member of the World Bank Group – brings together all levels of the garment industry to improve working conditions and boost the competitiveness of apparel businesses. Currently active in seven countries, the programme creates lasting change through assessments, training, advocacy and research. An independent study of Better Work by Tufts University showed that the programme had made measurable impacts in the lives of millions of workers and their families, and made businesses more competitive and up to 22 per cent more profitable.

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