Reducing Labour Exploitation in the Plantation Sector, IOM Provided Training for Recruitment Agencies

Ethical Recruitment Introductory Training in Mataram, West Nusa Tenggara, 27-28 February 2024

To enhance the capacity of Indonesia’s Private Recruitment Agencies (P3MI) that deploy migrant workers in the plantation sector along the Indonesia-Malaysia corridor, IOM conducted an Ethical Recruitment Introductory Training in Mataram, West Nusa Tenggara from 27-28 February 2024. The training aimed to mitigate the risk of labour exploitation among migrant workers, including the threats of trafficking in persons and forced labour within their business chains. The event, which was funded by the Consumer Goods Forum – Human Rights Coalition, aimed at reducing the risks of labour exploitation, trafficking in persons, and forced labour in the plantation business chain. This training was also designed to help P3MI in recognizing ethical recruitment patterns and aligning their business practices with the principles of the International Recruitment Integrity System (IRIS). 

During the opening, Eny Rofiatul Ngazizah, National Project Officer at IOM Indonesia, emphasized the role of placement agencies in ensuring the protection of migrant workers. “This is not solely the obligation of the government, but also migrant workers’ placement agencies or P3MI, as stipulated in Law No 18 Year 2017. P3MI has a crucial role in ensuring the protection of migrant workers and a safe migration process to the destination countries. Thus, P3MI needs to have skills and knowledge to conduct due diligence and apply ethical recruitment principles and decent works in recruiting migrant workers in every part of their business process,” she explained. 

The palm oil sector is a significant contributor to the national economy of Indonesia and Malaysia and a source of income for millions of people. Data from the Indonesian Migrant Worker Protection Agency (BP2MI) for the period of January-November 2023 showed that the placement of Indonesian Migrant Workers (IMWs) to Malaysia reached 60,000 people, where the majority were in the palm oil plantation sector. According to IOM’s Counter Trafficking data, there were 317 persons identified as Trafficking in Person in the plantation sector. The situation indicates the necessity of a whole government approach to ensure regular and safe migration.  

Nourman Adhiguna, the Head of BP3MI NTB stated, “in 2023 there are approximately 27,000 Indonesian migrant workers from West Nusa Tenggara with the majority being more than 400 complaints from migrant workers who departed through an unprocedural process,” Adhiguna explained while also emphasizing the importance of procedural placements to comply with international standards, otherwise, the palm oil product cannot be exported.  

The Head of the Local Manpower and Transmigration Office in West Nusa Tenggara, I Gede Putu Aryadi, during his remark, emphasized that following proper procedure when migrating abroad could prevent workers from any form of exploitation. “Becoming a migrant worker should be a choice that is not limited by the government or state. However, it is the responsibility of individuals and relevant stakeholders to ensure that migrant workers are not exploited. This can be done by following proper procedures and requirements for their departure to destination countries. 

In addition, Gede also highlighted the importance of synergy between the Manpower and Transmigration local offices and P3MI as job providers. In 2021, the Ministry of Manpower launched poinplus, a platform tto bridge institutional training and educational facilities with P3MI. This platform was created because there have been cases where brokers took a lot of money from aspirant migrant workers. Therefore, it is essential to engage with the placement agencies to eliminate such practices. IOM, has worked in partnership with various stakeholders, including the government, private sector, and civil society organizations, to develop the IRIS standard. The objective of this standard is to safeguard the rights of migrant workers, promote transparency and accountability in the recruitment process, encourage the adoption of the "employer pays" principle, and enhance the effectiveness of public policies, regulations, and enforcement mechanisms. 

IOM Indonesia, under the "Mitigating Forced Labour Risks, Promoting Responsible Recruitment and Fair Employment Practices" program, also provided support to the Consumer Goods Forum – Human Rights Coalition (CGF-HRC) to eradicate forced labour practices in supply chains, promote ethical recruitment, and assist the plantation sector in Malaysia in detecting exploitative labour practices in the supply chains of CGF-HRC member companies.