The issue of labour rights in the palm oil sector is in the headlines once again.

In a recent column for The Jakarta Globe, Fadhil Hasan, Senior Economist at the Institute for Development of Economics and Finance (INDEF) and Sumarjono Saragih, Deputy Chairman of Labour Affairs of the Indonesian Palm Oil Association (GAPKI), highlight the integral role the Indonesia Sustainable Palm Oil (ISPO) standard plays in ensuring the rights of palm oil workers are in alignment with international norms.

ISPO sets clear criteria and indicators related to labour, such as occupational safety and health; legal and administrative requirements, improvement of workers’ welfare and training, prohibition on child labour and discrimination, facilitation of trade union formation, and facilitation of worker cooperatives.

Hasan and Saragih write that “Indonesia’s record on agricultural labour has been improving since the end of the New Order era. This has taken place in several ways. It commenced with international cooperation and the signing of treaties. Indonesia is the first country in the Asia-Pacific region to ratify all of International Labor Organization’s core treaties.”

The authors point to the joint work and cooperation of a number of governments, multilateral organisations and NGOs such as the Dutch government, the International Labour Organization (ILO) and a program addressing female workers on the plantation between Dutch labour union, CNV, and local Indonesian labour union, HUKATAN. This work has highlighted that the governments “certification program is key and this has underlined the role of Indonesia Sustainable Palm Oil (ISPO) in improving labour conditions in palm oil supply chain.”

The authors conclude that “If the West wants to improve the plight of Indonesia’s palm oil workers, its first move should be to accept ISPO as an assurance of workers’ rights.”

Read the full article from The Jakarta Globe here.