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The Snare of Labor in Our Gardens

Guntur (48), a farm worker from the village of Rabambang, Gunung Mas district, Central Kalimantan, experienced difficulties. He had only worked for six months and was still a daily laborer. He had previously worked as an illegal miner but tried his luck on the plantation because he was afraid of being arrested by the police if he continued illegal mining. However, his hopes of living a better life on the palm plantation were not easily achieved.

Guntur was promised by the company to change his status to a fixed-term employment agreement (PKWT), but until now it has not yet been realized. He is worried that he will be let go by the company, as has happened to six of his relatives from the same village.

During six months of work, Guntur brought his own work equipment from home because he had to buy it himself and it was deducted from his salary. In addition, he still does not have any health insurance until now. “It was promised, but we still haven’t received it (health insurance),” he said.

To work, Guntur travels about two hours from his home. He doesn’t want to stay in the company’s dormitory because it’s not suitable. “There is only one shared bathroom and toilet, not in each house,” he said.

Palm plantation workers load fresh fruit bunches onto a private plantation truck in Langkat Regency, North Sumatra, on Wednesday (26/7/2023). Women and children are the most vulnerable to exploitation in plantation areas.
KOMPAS/NIKSON SINAGA

Palm plantation workers load fresh fruit bunches onto a private plantation truck in Langkat Regency, North Sumatra, on Wednesday (26/7/2023). Women and children are the most vulnerable to exploitation in plantation areas.

He is paid Rp 129,000 per day. The wage is calculated based on how many palm bunches can be harvested. His company doesn’t even set the working hours. He can only work eight hours a day. Guruh has not received a monthly salary like workers under the Fixed-Term Employment Agreement (PKWT) or

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