Indonesian garment industry receives human rights trial

Tomorrow marks the start of the fourth People’s Tribunal, a human rights trial held by garment workers’ unions and human rights groups to hear evidence of systematic human rights abuses in the Indonesian garment industry. The People’s Tribunal in Indonesia is the fourth of its kind to be held in Asia, the former being held in Sri Lanka, Cambodia and India.

Supplier factory owners, government and industry representatives, multinational brands and over 140 factory workers will give evidence in front of a panel of judges from several continents on the topic poverty pay and poor working conditions. Wages below poverty levels are a ongoing problem in the Indonesian garment industry, with an average monthly minimum wage for garment workers of around €82, which is only 31% of a living wage enough to support a family.

Evidence has been gathered which demonstrates issues such as illegal compulsory overtime, inhuman productivity measures, wage theft, systematic denial of social security payments, sexual harassment and gender discrimination, and active suppression of the right to freedom of association.

"A living wage is the cornerstone of decent working conditions,” says Emelia Yanti from the Asia Floor Wage Alliance. “Paying a living wage has a positive effect on the reduction of overtime and malnutrition. It means workers have the choice to refuse work due to unsafe working conditions and it means they can take time off for ill health.”

International workers’ rights group the Clean Clothes Campaign will also participate in the tribunal and will urge governments and global buyers sourcing from Indonesia to take the findings seriously. “With this tribunal we hope to see some real commitment from big brands buying from Indonesia to start addressing the real needs of their workers – a living wage should be at the root of these policies,” said Mirjam van Heugten, Clean Clothes Campaign International Secretariat. “A living wage is a human right. You simply cannot claim to be a sustainable company as long as wages fail to meet the basic needs of workers and their families.”

To follow the tribunal as it happens: