Giving workers a voice

As part of the Asia Floor Wage Alliance Worker Tribunals have been taking place across the region given workers an opportunity to share their expereinces and speak with government and brand represenatives around the issues they face due to poverty pay in the garment sector.

The tribunals have been held in conjunction with the Permanent People's Tribunal and have gathered testimony from workers, trade unions and experts. 

Tribunals have taken place in Sri Lanka, India and Cambodia and between June 20- 24 2014 the latest tribunal took place in Indonesia.

What is the Permanent People's Tribunal on Living Wages?

The Permanent Peoples Tribunal's on living wages "opinion tribunal whose activities include identifying and publicising cases of systematic violation of fundamental rights, especially cases in which national and international legislation fails to defend the right of the people"

The format of Tribunals is that for the first two days witness testimony is heard from workers, wage and labour law experts, brand representatives and trade unions.  On the third day the Judges deliberate the evidence they have heard and on the final day of proceedings they share their findings and recommendations.

For all the Tribunals that have been held to date with the Asia Floor Wage Alliance, brand representatives from all the brands named in the cases have been invited to attend. 

(The examples given are all from the Cambodian People's Tribunal in 2012)

Latest People's Tribunal on Wages

Jakarta, Indonesia

The latest Permanent People's Tribunal on wages took place between 20 and 23 June in Indonesia. The Tribunal was attended by around 140 workers and heard evidence from five workers on issues including gender based discrimination, poverty wages, union busting and forced overtime.

The workers who testified were joined by expert witnesses on labour law including Jeroen Merk, Doug Miller, Joko Heriyono and Surya Tjandra.

"The majority of workers employed in the Indonesian garment industry are female. It is these women who create profit for the supplier companies and brand owners."
— Emelia Yanti from the Asia Floor Wage Alliance and Secretary of GSBI.

Local organisers of the People’s Tribunal Indonesia were:

  • Federation of Independent Trade Union (GSBI)
  • Federasi of Indonesia Trade Union (FSBI)
  • Indonesia Prosperity Trade Union 1992 (SBSI’92)
  • National Trade Union (SPN)
  • together with organisations Institute of Sedane Labour Information (LIPS)
  • and Trade Union Right Centre (TURC).

Although many brands who buy from Indonesia were invited to attend just two turned up - H&M and Adidas. 

After two days of hearing all the evidence the Judges retired to consider their verdict.  In their summing up the Judges found there was overwhelming evidence of ‘systematic violation of the fundamental right to a life lived with human dignity' in an industry employing mostly women and said 'urgent action must be taken' by a variety of stakeholders. Read the final judgement here.

To find out what happened during the proceedings you can follow the Tumblr that had live updates here.

Sri Lanka: The Judges verdict

Read the Judges outcome from the first People's Tribunal on wages held in Sri Lanka.

Judge PPT

Cambodia: The background

Read the evidence submitted to the Cambodian People's Tribunal here.

Puma representative at Cambodia PPT

India: The outcome

Read about the outcomes of the Tribunal held in Bangalore in November 2012.

India Tribunal

What others say

A selection of press coverage of previous Tribunals.