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Collaborating with ILO to strengthen good workplace practices in palm oil companies


Against the background of issues surrounding decent work conditions in the palm oil sector, Sinar Mas Agribusiness and Food and the International Labour Organisation (ILO) have been collaborating to improve labour conditions with various stakeholders of the palm oil industry.

After the initial social dialogue sessions, we are now participating in ILO’s ‘Decent Work in Palm Oil’ programme. Under this programme, we train suppliers on how to achieve a safer work environment aligned to Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) standards, as well as to improve awareness and understanding of basic employment aspects.

Participants wrote down their commitments to improvements at their respective work environments and went through the workplace improvement checklists.

Participants wrote down their commitments to improvements at their respective work environments and went through the workplace improvement checklists.

Tying in with ILO’s region of focus, four suppliers with integrated mill and plantation operations, based in North Sumatra, were selected to be part of the programme. Anglo Eastern Plantation (AEP) had the first opportunity to conduct the training session at their PT Ukindo Blankahan Training Center in Langkat, from 18-19 July under the theme ‘Improving Work Conditions and Environment for Palm Oil Workers’.

48 participants from 10 AEP subsidiaries took part in this training. These participants were field workers (including harvesters, fertiliser personnel, foremen, office clerks and mill workers) who could be exposed to occupational risks. It was important to involve field workers, to improve their OHS awareness, and in the long run, develop a stronger OHS culture within the entire organisation.

By using a Participatory Action Oriented Training (PAOT) method, participants were invited to actively express their opinions and provide input throughout the training process. PAOT is a practical method that supports work environment improvement initiatives by emphasising three key principles: easy-to-do, cost effective and smart way to solve problems. On the first day, the facilitators from the Ministry of Manpower gave five related presentations on material handling, work place, safe machinery, physical environment and welfare facilities. Besides providing detailed explanations, the facilitators also prepared games and quizzes during the sessions to help participants better understand the material.

On the second day, participants took to onsite work locations in the estate and mill, to observe various working conditions that were discussed on the first day. They were required to take photos of good workplace conditions and workplace conditions that had room for improvement, which were later  presented and discussed. The exercise was aimed at enabling participants to appreciate decent working conditions from an OHS viewpoint, and at the same time to learn to promote OHS culture in their respective workplaces. Concluding the event, the participants wrote down three commitments on improving health and safety conditions, to be implemented in the coming three months, both at home and in the workplace.

Site visit to workplaces and discussion on the results.

The preliminary and final tests conducted on the participants’ OHS awareness returned a significant increase. 45 out of 48 participants scored significantly good marks as shown in the graph below. By encouraging active involvement from the workers through the PAOT method, the training is expected to help our suppliers achieve OHS improvements in their workplace. For workers taking part in this activity, we have also communicated to them to disseminate their knowledge to other workers.

This graph shows an increase in the results obtained from both the preliminary and final tests on the participants’ OHS awareness.

Three other training sessions were conducted with suppliers Gruti Lestari Pratama, Karimun Aromatics, and Abdi Budi Mulia.

Check out our latest SMART Sustainable Palm Oil Training (SMARTSPOT) to ensure traceability and responsible employment with our suppliers in Medan here.

Irpan Kadir is part of the supply chain compliance team at Sinar Mas Agribusiness and Food. He is responsible for developing and implementing a supplier performance appraisal system based on the GAR Social and Environmental Policy (GSEP). He has previously worked as an auditor for the Sustainable Forest Management as well as the RSPO and ISPO, and has experience as a consultant in areas such as corporate social responsibility, community development and sustainability reporting. He graduated from the Bogor Agricultural University (IPB) with a bachelor’s degree from the Department of Social and Agricultural Economics.

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