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Free trade shouldn't deteriorate labour conditions

Free trade shouldn’t cause labour conditions to deteriorate for workers in Indonesia,” states Nicole Mathot, Programme Officer at CNV Internationaal. Mathot currently is attending a shadow conference in Indonesia at the same time the 4th round of CEPA negotiations are being conducted. The organising committee of this shadow conference, which includes CNV Internationaal and our partner union, KSBSI, will meet with official CEPA negotiation delegates from the EU and the Indonesian government in Solo.

The CEPA talks between the European Union (EU) and the Indonesian government take place in Solo (Java), February 19-23. During these official free trade negotiation rounds, the Asian European People’s Forum (AEPF) in Jakarta, concurrently is hosting a shadow conference on sustainable development and trade. The AEPF, a cooperation between environmental and development organisations and trade unions, focuses on respect for human rights.  

  

Shadow conference

 The goal of the shadow conference is to facilitate Indonesia and European organisations  in exchanging knowledge and experiences and to offer them a place for comparing lobbying strategies in regard to free trade. By participating in this conference, along with the Indonesian trade union KSBSI, CNV emphasises the importance of firmly establishing labour rights in free trade agreements. 

Albert Levente, the Deputy Head of Economic and Trade Relations for the EU representation in Indonesia, gave the opening speech at the beginning of the conference. He spoke on Europe’s commitment and their ambitions for Indonesia. The rest of the programme consisted of various workshops, including one organised by CNV Internationaal and KSBSI on labour rights. 

According to Mathot, “Civil society organisations are afraid that workers in the palm oil industry could suffer even more negative consequences regarding their working conditions, so they would like to keep this sector out of the negotiation process. They feel that their working conditions can be better addressed through inclusive social dialogue among all the relevant parties.

Publication date 05 03 2018