No room for violence and harassment in Indonesia’s garment industry

The causes and risk factors of violence and sexual harassment in the workplace were discussed, as well as the zero tolerance policy, how to use GFAs to end violence and harassment, and how to assess the risks by through health and safety policies.

Participants identified unwanted touching as something that often happens in the production area. Toilets, locker rooms and parking lots are also places of violence and harassment. The Omnibus Act replaced the collective bargaining agreement in many workplaces, making discrimination and harassment easier to avoid than before.

Sharing experiences on reliable complaint mechanisms, participants highlighted communication apps such as WhatsApp and Telegram for reporting violence and harassment to unions, as well as the importance of independent audits. An imbalance of power is at the root of gender-based violence and harassment (GBV), and a culture of silence in the workplace sustains and encourages it.

Stakeholders shared their commitment to following their code of ethics, using international standards, reliable workplace complaint mechanisms and raising awareness through training. More than 15 suppliers from H&M, Inditex, Adidas and Nike shared their GBV elimination programs and pledged to provide more training and safer workplaces.

The employers’ association expressed their support for the ratification of ILO C190 and the importance of the new Act No. 12 – Sexual Harassment Criminal Act 2022. The Ministry of Manpower has reiterated its commitment to revealing sexual harassment, although many companies deny it. They also shared their experiences of shelters built with unions to create a safe environment for victims of violence and sexual harassment.

Pou Chen trade union network signs zero tolerance policy

The meeting ended with suppliers and trade unionists signing the zero tolerance policy. The fight against GBV is an important part of the work of trade union networks. Pou Chen’s union network attended the meeting with three suppliers, and together with workplace-level unions, all signed the policy.

Christina Hajagos-Clausen, IndustriALL textile director, says:

“Women make up over 80% of the workforce in the garment industry and are disproportionately affected by workplace violence and harassment. We need stronger commitments from industry stakeholders to create workplaces free of violence and harassment.

“The Zero Tolerance Policy is a great example of working together to eliminate GBV and create a safer garment industry. We salute the commitments of the brands GFA, H&M and Inditex, as well as Adidas to fight against GBV. The commitment of the Pou Chen group illustrates the importance of knowing how a trade union network can create change.

The meeting was held in collaboration with the Ministry of Manpower, Ministry of Women Empowerment and Child Welfare, Indonesian Employers Association, Better Work Indonesia and the Office of the ILO in Indonesia.

Michael O. Stutler