Cablegate: Indonesia -- Child/Forced Labor in the Production

DE RUEHJA #1097/01 1570354
O 050354Z JUN 08




E.O. 12958: N/A

REF: A. STATE 43120

JAKARTA 00001097 001.2 OF 007

1. (U) This report was coordinated with Consulate General
Surabaya and Consulate Medan.

2. (U) SUMMARY: As requested in Ref A, this report
documents incidents of exploitation of child labor in the
production of goods in Indonesia. We found evidence of such
activities in the following industries: the shoe industry in
West Java; tobacco plantations in East Java; furniture
industry in East Java; and, fish and shrimp processing
industries in North Sumatra.

3. (U) SUMMARY (Con'd): In addition, we report on possible
exploitative labor in tobacco plantations in North Sumatra.
We also document forced child labor in the birds nest
industry in Jakarta. We will continue to investigate other
allegations of exploitative or forced labor cases which we
were unable to substantiate for this report. We researched
extensively for evidence of forced adult labor but found
none. Based on the totality of our research, child labor in
the production of goods is a serious problem in Indonesia.

4. (U) Shoe Industry in Ciomas Regency, West Java:

a. Good: Shoes, primarily women's shoes and sandals,
manufactured in a household cottage industry in West Java for
distribution to outlets throughout the archipelago. There is
no evidence that the shoes are exported. Labels are local as
well national brands, possibly counterfeited brand names. We
could not confirm whether national shoe companies purchased
the shoes using their labels.

b. Type of Exploitation: Exploited child labor, primarily
aged 13-17, some younger, working long hours, for low pay and
in unsafe work conditions.

c. Sources of Information: A short 2008 report by Elsppat
(a local NGO which works with out of school children), based
on research for the International Labor Organization (ILO).
In addition, in May 2008 Labatt interviewed Elsppat staff and
made a field visit to Ciomas to directly observe this cottage
shoe industry, visiting about 30 homes and observing two or
three children in most homes. Labatt interviewed children
and adults in the households. (Note: See ref B for more
details on Labatt's investigation.)

d. Narrative: In Ciomas, West Java, a rural community near
Bogor about 90 minutes from Jakarta, a cottage shoe industry
encompassing 20 villages manufactures shoes in households.
The shoes are purchased by Jakarta wholesale buyers for
distribution to outlets across the country, from local
markets to mall boutiques. Children regularly work 16-hour
days - or sometimes round the clock during rush orders,
napping at the workplace. They sit on the floor (causing
ergonomic injuries) in enclosed spaces applying toxic glue
with their fingers. Children typically begin working at age
14, after completing junior high school. A local department
of health doctor told Labatt that the glue causes nausea and
dizziness, and is addictive. Glue is possibly linked to
liver damage later in life. Some children attend school half
days but still work 12 hours a day and neglect their studies.
Once children begin working, they do not want to return to

Each household employs between 3 and 20 workers which include
the heads of households, their families, neighbors and
workers from other cities in West Java. Many of the
households employ children. Children are family members,

JAKARTA 00001097 002.2 OF 007

neighbors and children who accompany adult workers from other
cities. Under research done for ILO in a DOL-funded study
completed in 2008, Elsppat documented 600 children in six of
the villages. Children were mostly boys. This situation has
existed for at least the four years documented by Elsppat.
Elspatt told Labatt that it conservatively estimates over a
thousand children working in an expanding industry across 20
villages. Wholesale buyers own many of the household
factories, built on former rice paddies. Industry is driven
by poverty with the average education level of children in
Ciomas area grade six. Wholesale buyers claimed they are not
aware of child workers or that it is not their concern.
Adults said they cannot survive without the children's income
and while many admit they would like their children to return
to school, they do not believe they are exploiting the
children. Children are considered "helpers" or "apprentices"
and are paid through the adult workers, receiving a fraction
of the USD90 a month paid to the adult based on piece work.
(Minimum wage in a factory is about USD90 for a 40-hour
week). Children do the same work as adults, cutting molds
and gluing the materials.

e. Incidence: We have no evidence that a cottage shoe
industry of this scale which employs children exists outside
of Ciomas, although we have unsubstantiated reports from NGOs
of scattered cottage shoe industries in poorer Jakarta

f. Efforts to Combat Forced Labor: ILO and Elsppat worked
with local officials over the past several years to improve
the work situation and reduce child labor. Some local
officials were responsive and others not; the impact on
changing the attitudes of households and wholesale buyers in
using child labor was minimal. Elsppat reported that
outreach did persuade some households to stop employing
children. Other households adopted the use of benches and
tables to reduce the ergonomic stress, as well as use of glue
applicators, keeping the glue containers closed, and doing
the work in more open, airy rooms. Elsppat has also taught
children how to sew clothing with sewing machines donated by
the Indonesian Chamber of Commerce, a healthier occupation
for children. Elsppat helped households to form organic
vegetable farmers' cooperatives and to market the produce
locally in order to reduce the need for children to work.
Elsppat provided tutoring and vocational education to out of
school children using their own volunteer staff donations and
tutors who live in the community.

5. (U) Swallow Bird Nest Industry, Jakarta

a. Bird nests for use in food and medicines.

b. Type of exploitation: Forced child labor in western
Jakarta, enslaved in cottage industries hidden in housing
complexes behind locked gates. Children are forced to work
long hours at low or no pay, in unsafe environments, and are
not free to leave the workplace.

c. Sources of information: Labatt interview in April and
May 2008 with the National Commission on Child Protection;
evidence from police arrests. Child Commission conducted
field investigation into this case in 2007 and 2008. Based
on observations, interviews in the community and interviews
with parents of exploited children, the Child Commission
gathered enough evidence to persuade the Manpower Ministry
and Indonesian National Police (INP) anti-trafficking unit to
conduct a raid which uncovered more evidence. Police are
still investigating. Labatt assistant interviewed the local
Legal Aid Society attorney handling the case on behalf of the
children and their families.

d. Incidence: This practice is limited to one neighborhood

JAKARTA 00001097 003.2 OF 007

in west Jakarta. The 22 children cited above were documented
because of police action. The Child Commission believes that
based on observation and interviews that hundreds of more
children are enslaved in this same neighborhood in locked
housing complexes.

e. Narrative: Bird nests are a multi-million dollar
industry in Asia. Indonesia exports birds nests to Hong Kong,
Singapore and other countries. Only a small fraction is
intended for the local market. In West Jakarta, Child
Commission found dozens of houses located in an elite housing
complex used as a factory to clean swallow bird nests,
employing children aged 12 -17, although age was difficult to
prove because of the tight security at the factory. They
work 10-14 hours a day - and round the clock during peak
demand -- cleaning birds nests and processing the nests into
medicine and soup. Children are exposed to chemicals used to
clean the birds nests from impurities. They sit on the floor
in an enclosed room without sunlight. They work, eat and
sleep in the house, on mattresses or on the floor in crowded
rooms. They are promised salaries of USD35-40 per month but
those rescued were never paid. Between 50-100 child workers
are believed to be confined in a single house and not allowed
to go out or accept visits by parents or other relatives,
Child Commission alleges based on observations and interviews
in the community. Children are beaten if they attempt to run

Oftentimes, parents were not aware that their children were
lured into this slavery situation through employment brokers.
Parents could locate their children or were forced to pay
exorbitant debts to secure their release. Employers paid
USD50 per child to the recruitment agencies. Some children
were forced to sign a two-year contract, while other children
did not have contracts.

f. Efforts to Combat Forced Labor: On August 12, 2007, the
Child Commission worked with Indonesian National Police (INP)
and Manpower Ministry to carry out a raid rescuing six
children who worked in a bird nest factory located in West
Jakarta. On January 3, 2008, INP arrested a male suspect who
employed the children. The trial is still ongoing. Chair of
Legal Aid in Banyumas, Central Java told Labatt assistant
they are currently representing 15 children who have been
rescued from the bird nest industry owned by the accused.

6. (U) Fish Processing Factories in Sibolga, North Sumatra

a. Fresh fish

b. Type of Exploitation: Exploited child labor in a North
Sumatra seaport town, mostly aged 14-17, and some under age
10, working long hours, for low pay and in unsafe

c. Sources of Information: An investigative freelance
television reporter documenting child labor in North Sumatra
filmed the children in the two factories using a hidden video
camera. The filming took place in April 2008. Subsequent
filming was planned but the reporter has been unable to
reenter the factory. In May 2008, ConGen Medan viewed the
video showing the children at work and spoke with the
reporter, who is trying to market the film to Indonesian TV
stations. In late May, a local television station, TV-ONE
showed approximately 30 seconds of the video as part of an
evening news program, but no official action appears to have
been taken. ConGen intends to investigate this case at the
soonest opportunity. There are no official or other sources
for this case due to the hidden nature and sensitivity of the

d. Incidence: We have no reports of children used in the

JAKARTA 00001097 004.2 OF 007

fish processing industry outside of this one small town on
the west coast of North Sumatra.

e. Narrative: Approximately 50 children were observed and
videotaped in each of two factories using small scaling
knifes to clean remove fish scales. The children are brought
to the factory by adults, often parents, who employ the
children to help meet their daily production quotas. The
cameraman captured the video using a hidden camera. The video
seen by ConGen Medan depicted teenage children who appeared
to be under age 18 sorting and cleaning the fish with small
knives. Some appeared to be under age 10. Two youth were
interviewed while cleaning fish. The cameraman asked if they
were to attending school. Both replied that they had dropped
out. At this factory fish are brought directly by fishing
vessels and exported to Asian countries, the reporter told

f. Efforts to Combat Forced Labor: No action is being taken
at this time but ConGen intends to discuss this case directly
with the governor.

7. (U) North Sumatra Prawn Factories

a. Prawns

b. Types of exploitation: Exploitation of child labor, aged
14-18, in two prawn and squid canning factories in industrial
zones in Medan, North Sumatra, who work long hours, for low
pay and in unhealthy conditions.

c. Sources of Information: A 2008 written report by a
highly respected North Sumatra NGO (it asked to have its
identity protected) and interviews by ConGen Medan with this
NGO in May 2008, as well as a June 2008 telephone
conversation by Labatt with this NGO. ConGen stated that
this NGO is among the most reliable NGOs in North Sumatra
whose reports have proven accurate in the past. The NGO
directly observed the conditions, had staff working in the
factory, and interviewed families and their children to
document this case.

d. Incidence: We do not know of any other such industries
in Indonesia.

e. Narrative: The NGO cited above recently documented
exploitive employment of 70 children age 14-18 and an unknown
number of children in another factory in industrial zones on
the outskirts of Medan, the capital of North Sumatra.
Children work 12 or more hours a day peeling prawns and
slicing squid for export, for wages that are fraction of
poverty adult wages. Children are recruited from villages
around Medan through family who work in the factories.
Children are bused in from homes by the employers into the
factory compounds and not allowed to leave during breaks,
making documenting their employment difficult. The children
are not registered among the contract workers in the
factories and employers claim the children are helping their
parents. Work involves sorting export quality prawns,
peeling them and putting them into boxes. Children inside
the factory building work in very cold rooms and wear heavy
coats, while other children work outside in the open air.
They are paid according to daily quotas, receiving about
USD1.50 a day in one factory and about USD80 a month in a
second factory, slightly below the prevailing minimum wage
for factory work with eight-hour days. Children are picked
up by buses at 5 a.m., work from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m., and do
not get home until 10 p.m. They are constantly weak and

f. Efforts to Combat Forced Labor: The NGO which
investigated this case has not reported this child

JAKARTA 00001097 005.2 OF 007

exploitation to authorities out of concern that the
government action could worsen the children's welfare. The
government would remove children from the factories and
return them to the plantations where they live, where they
are vulnerable to being trafficked to Malaysia. The NGO
instead intends to propose a solution which would remove
children under 15 years of age from the factories, and
provide decent working hours, food and better conditions for
the older teenage workers. The children are largely
illiterate and have few alternatives.

8. (U) Tobacco Plantations, North Sumatera

a. Tobacco for cigar wrappings

b. Type of exploitation: Exploitation of child labor who
work helping their families in harvesting tobacco on
plantations in North Sumatra Province. Allegedly children
worked long hours at low wages, using dangerous tools and
were subject to pesticides, according to a 2004 ILO study.
However, ConGen Medan investigated this from several sources
in May 2008, including a visit to the plantation in question,
and could confirm no use of child labor.

c. Sources of Information: ILO's Child Labor Report on
Tobacco Plantations on North Sumatera Province based on 2004
field research by a local NGO; ConGen Medan interviews with
local NGOs and a visit to one of the plantations which
allegedly exploited children. The NGO which conducted the
study used questionnaires to interview 100 adults and 100
children in 2004. This NGO refused to discuss the case with
personnel from Consulate Medan.

d. Narrative: Adult workers in the North Sumatra tobacco
plantations have traditionally brought family members to help
in the fields, including young children. In the 2004 ILO
study, children worked for families sharing in the adult
contract workers' wages. Child laborers help their family in
seasonal work by performing jobs suited to their age and sex.
The child labor shifts usually are designed to accommodate
school hours and the nature of tobacco growing. This means
work can only be done at certain times of the day,
particularly picking insects off the plants (which feed at
dawn and dusk). Harvesting leaves is done in the early
morning to ensure that they can be sorted, processed, and
sent for drying in one day. Hazards include injuries from
pickaxes and hoes, and exposure to pesticides.

e. Incidence: The ILO study was done in several state-owned
plantations in Deli Serdang district, North Sumatera province
and this type of tobacco plantation is limited to that
district. This particular type of tobacco is used for export
to high-end cigar manufacturers in Europe. ConGen Medan
interviewed NGOs and visited one of the tobacco plantations
and could find no proof that child labor still exists.
European buyers closely inspect the production process for
cigar wrappers and it is possible that this has discouraged
the traditional use of child labor. ILO told Labatt that
they would follow up with their sources to see if they can
find any evidence that this practice still exists.

f. Efforts to Combat Forced Labor: ILO worked with the
local government following their study to educate plantation
owners and families on use of child labor.

9. (U) Labor on Tobacco Plantations Jember District, East

a. Tobacco for cigarettes, primarily clove cigarettes

b. Type of exploitation: Exploitation of child labor,
mostly age 15-17, in growing and processing tobacco in East

JAKARTA 00001097 006.2 OF 007

Sumatra, working long hours, for low pay and in unsafe

c. Sources of Information: ILO-IPEC 2006 study "Child Labor
on Tobacco Plantations in Jember District." Researchers
interviewed 100 parents and 100 children, 50 respondents each
in four locations. Labatt also interviewed the executive
director of Community Self-Sufficiency Initiative Foundation
(YPSM) in Jember District which researched this situation.
Surabaya Consulate General interviewed directors of radio
stations in Jember who are familiar with the issue.

d. Narrative: Children in Jember District of East Java have
traditionally helped parents in the tobacco fields. Work
involving children includes preparing the land, planting,
watering, fertilizing, spraying insecticides, planting,
drying tobacco and other processing work. Work is seasonal.
Boys and girls participate equally. The numbers involved are
not known. Children age 15 to 17 work between 7 and 9 hours
a day; younger children work fewer hours. Over 86 percent of
those interviewed are age 15 or older. Children are paid
basically the same as adults according to output, making
between USD12 to USD35 a month. Hazards include extreme heat
and rain, heavy lifting, exposure to toxic fertilizers and
insecticides, exposure to tobacco dust and aroma, hot and
stuffy rooms, use of sharp tools, and no access to toilets.
Fifty four percent of children interviewed reported
occupational related accidents and sickness.

e. Incidence: Use of child labor in this type of tobacco
plantation work appears to be limited to this part of East

f. Efforts to Combat Child Labor: ILO has worked with the
local government to educate the community by asking parents
to let their children, especially girls, return to school.
They have also carried out safety and health education
programs. Families still choose put their children to work,
particularly during harvest season. However, YPSM and ILO
told Labatt that although child workers still exist in the
plantations the number of children has been reduced
significantly in the past ten years due to government efforts
to promote compulsory study.

10. (U) Furniture and Woodworking Industries in Jepara
Regency, Central Java

a. Wood furniture, screens, handicrafts and other products
carved from wood

b. Types of exploitation: Exploitation of child labor, age
12-17, in furniture and woodcarving cottage industries in one
district of Central Java, who work long hours, for low pay,
and in unhealthy, unsafe work conditions.

c. Sources of Information: ILO's 2008 draft report of Rapid
Assessment on Occupational Safety and Health (OSH), Child and
Young Workers in the Furniture and Woodworking Industries in
Central Java, Indonesia; a Labatt interview with a lecturer
at the University of Diponegoro in Semarang and with an
official at the Jepara Manpower Office. (Note: While the
ILO study is still in draft form, Labatt interviewed the
Diponegoro University researcher who conducted that research,
and the information in this section is based primarily on
that interview with permission from the researcher to source
him.) University of Diponegoro methodology used direct
interviews in the community using questionnaires and focus
group discussion, observation and gathering of secondary
data. Interviews also were done with local government
agencies, village heads, and some members of Jepara District
Action Committee on Elimination of the Worst Forms of Child
Labour. They interviewed 152 respondents: 28 female and 124

JAKARTA 00001097 007.2 OF 007

male, 75 of below 18 years of age, and 77 over age 18.

d. Narrative: In Jepara, Central Java, the furniture and
woodcarving industry employed 85,250 workers in 2001.
Woodcarving began in Jepara in the 15th century. In 2007,
University of Diponegoro documented 2300 child workers in
just half the Jepara Regency. Over 80 percent are boys.
Children work in cottage or household furniture and
woodcarving industries which supply medium to large companies
for domestic and foreign markets. Children are regarded as
apprentices. The wholesale buyers pay the adults based on
production and either do not know about child labor or choose
to ignore it. Children earn about USD2 a day, working at
least 12 hours a day. Child wages are comparable to what
adults earn. (Note: Minimum factory wages in Jepara for
eight-hour shifts are about USD100 a month.) The Jepara
Manpower Office provided Labatt a long list of medium and
large companies that outsourced their orders to home
industries. These companies usually have over 300 employees
and are oftentimes are foreign direct investment companies,
according to the Manpower Office.

Production is mainly of unpainted screens, and European style
furniture carved in teak, mahogany and ebony, as well as of
handicrafts responding to changing demands. The tasks
performed by children include box making, carpentry (wood
cutting, plane the wood, assembling), wood carving, furniture
caulking, product coding, lifting, heating wood in ovens,
packing, painting furniture, plaiting rattan, polishing,
sanding, and upholstery crafting. There was no separation
between child workers and adults. Hazards include chemical
exposure to glue, paint, coloring as well as solvent, and LPG
for rattan dryer support, as well as exposure to teakwood sap
and wood dust, and loud noise.

e. Incidence: University of Diponegoro said this type of
furniture and woodcarving industry is not unique to Jepara,
Central Java, but is common in other parts of Indonesia, such
as in Cirebon, West Java.

f. Efforts to Combat Child Labor: The Central Java
Provincial Regulation on Prevention of Child Labor was passed
in December 2007. To enforce the regulation, initial actions
included data collection on the number of child workers by
the Japara Manpower Office and pursuing the legal cases of
child workers. Manpower also is planning to conduct
workshops on child worker protection with focus on the
furniture industry. ILO presented the results of its study
at a workshop in collaboration with the Japara Manpower

11. (U) We also obtained information about goods that may
have some indication of exploitive child labor in their
production, but not enough to report in this tasking. NGOs
reported to us, based on first-hand witness accounts from
their staff, of exploitation of child labor in clothing and
shoe industry in Jakarta, brick making in Sumatra, gold and
silver mining in Java and Kalimantan, and in the lumber
industry in Kalimantan. We will continue to investigate
these in the coming weeks. We also will work with labor
organizations and NGOs to advocate for the elimination of the
child labor exploitation cited in this report.

© Scoop Media

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