Executive Director of OPPUK who also served as Chairman of SERBUNDO, Herwin Nasution, SH became the keynote speaker in the panel discussion Roundtable 14 of Rountable on Sustainable Palm Oil in Bangkok, Thailand on 7-10 November 2016. Herwin became speaker in session with topic “Emerging Issues on Labor Working Conditions “along with Denys Collin Munang from Felda Global Ventures Holdings Berhad-Malaysia, Jan Pierre Jarrin Peters from Oleana-Ecuador and Agus Purnomo from Golden Agri-Resources Limited-Indonesia. The discussion was moderated by Daryll Delgado from Verite South East Asia.

RT14 is a sustainable palm oil meeting, discussing plantation practices in accordance with the criteria and principles of Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO). The event was attended by more than 800 representatives from 46 countries including oil palm industry, banking institutions, policy makers, academics, labor activists and various NGO elements.

In his presentation, the Chairman of SERBUNDO presented a paper entitled “Stop Labor Violations in Oil Palm Plantation-Transformation is now or never”. This paper describes the main problems faced by oil palm plantation workers ie employment status, working conditions, freedom of association, women workers and child labor. The presentation provides a real picture to the attended participants about any violations or actions that are inconsistent with RSPO principles and criteria in oil palm plantations in Indonesia.

Herwin said that SERBUNDO, as the only independent oil palm plantation union in Indonesia, continues to contribute to the improvement of the lives and work of oil palm plantation workers. SERBUNDO has made several steps for improvement, among others:

  1. Encourage companies to accept the existence of independent trade unions.
  2. Negotiation and agreement based on the RSPO Principles and Criteria and involving the government.
  3. Training and education for workers on the RSPO Principles and Criteria.
  4. Establisment of the Training of Trainer module RSPO Principles and Criteria.
  5. Formulating strategies on joint programs of trade unions and NGOs involving RSPO.
  6. Formation of a paper formulating team of working position of oil palm plantation workers.

The presence of the Chairman of SERBUNDO as the main speaker in the RSPO activities is an important success and progress for all workers and unions in Indonesia. This is because the RSPO at the beginning did not necessarily involve laborers or trade unions in the program.

But in 2013 SERBUNDO managed to organize 7,000 workers to encourage the RSPO to form a Task Force on workers in the RSPO. In 2014, together with a coalition of 26 NGOs and trade unions, SERBUNDO succeeded in creating Free and Fair Labor in Palm Oil Production: Principles and Implementation Guidance. In 2015, the document is adopted into the RSPO Principles and Criteria. In 2014 at the annual meeting of RSPO RT-12, the Chairman of SERBUNDO has also become the keynote speaker.

At the end of Herwin’s presentation, he recommended the improvement of labor conditions working in palm oil plantations in Indonesia.

  1. Encourage companies to accept the existence of independent trade unions in palm oil plantations in Indonesia.
  2. Encourage companies to appoint casual and Kernet as permanent workers so that their rights become more secure.
  3. Encourage the government to provide legal protection for palm oil plantation workers.
  4. Encourage the establishment of a fair working system in the palm oil production process.
  5. Encourage a just wage system for palm oil plantation workers.

The SERBUNDO, which has been established since 2014, has 5,000 members working in oil palm plantations in North Sumatra and East Kalimantan. SERBUNDO is also initiating the establishment of a base in Riau and Jambi.

In addition to being the keynote speaker at the RSPO panel, the Chairman of SERBUNDO is also a speaker on the side event with the theme “Understanding the increasing violation of labor rights in the palm oil industry” held by national and international NGOs active in labor and palm oil issues. At the event, the Chairman presented the material requesting Indofood to guarantee and improve the rights of workers in their palm oil plantations. The event was also attended by more than 200 people from various backgrounds such as academics, businessmen, laborers, activists, legal experts and banking.

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