Bonded Zone in N. Jakarta Violates Rights of Female Workers, Research Finds

In Indonesia, 80 percent of garment workers are women. (Reuters Photo/Edgar Su)

By : Diella Yasmine | on 8:38 PM December 21, 2017
Category : Life & Style, Community

Jakarta. Perempuan Mahardika, an organization dedicated to women's rights, has conducted a study involving female laborers in Kawasan Berikat Nusantara, a bonded zone in Cakung, North Jakarta, which revealed that their work conditions are far from safe.

The research, which started in 2015, involved 118 garment workers, among them 93 were or had been pregnant and felt unsafe at their working place.

Mahardika research program coordinator Vivi Widyawati said at a press conference in South Jakarta on Tuesday (19/12) that the company neglected its workers' rights.

"Losing job, getting less income, or miscarriage were the main three reasons [of their fear] that we heard during the research."

Vivi said maternity rights were often denied in the garment sector.

"Women are the driving force of Indonesia's garment industry, 80 percent of garment workers are women."

The 2003 Labor Law guarantees equal opportunities and equal treatment to male and female workers. Despite the law, Vivi said, the rights of female workers are often ignored.

Statutory maternity rights are rarely taken care of, overtime work is compulsory, and excessively long working days increase the burden of domestic responsibilities, keeping women away from children.

"The growth of Indonesia's garment industry has been marred by low wages and poor enforcement labor law."

According to the research, women workers said they are afraid of miscarriage at their workplace, with 60 percent saying their workload was the same during pregnancy.

Data shows that seven out of the 93 pregnant women interviewed had miscarried and three of them said their rights were denied. They were even encouraged to file resignation or take sick leave.

In accordance with the 2003 Labor Law, a working day in Indonesia is eight hours for those who work five days a week, and seven hours for those who work six days a week.

Employees may be required to work overtime for maximum five hours per day and 14 hours a week. Employers must pay overtime to their workers.

However, 25.4 percent of the interviewed said they had not been paid.

Even though many factories pay maternity benefits, not many workers are aware of what they are entitled to. After childbirth, for example, contract workers often return to the same factory, but are accepted as lower-grade laborers, which is against the law.

Breastfeeding is another issue.

Seventy-four women said they were not aware of their breastfeeding rights. They used their lunch breaks to breastfeed. Only half of them knew there should be a lactation room at their factory.

"There is a rule that babies should not be taken to the factory, but women who breastfeed find it difficult to arrange, because their supervisors do not permit them to take breastfeeding breaks, as it interferes with their work," said Vivi.

"Limited knowledge is still a big problem, it constrains empowerment," Vivi said adding that she hopes the research will raise awareness on labor conditions.

"This research aims to encourage women to speak up."

Ironically, the bonded zone where the research was conducted belongs to the Ministry of State Owned Enterprises (BUMN).

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