As Indonesia, the largest economy in Southeast Asia, continues on an uneven development path, concerns persist about labor abuses faced by workers within the country, as well as migrant workers who travel abroad to work in garment factories throughout Asia.

Transparentem investigators documented evidence of troubling recruitment practices affecting local workers at several export-oriented Indonesian apparel manufacturers in 2019 and 2020. The investigation found that these were repeatedly charged excessive fees by unauthorized middlemen to secure work with these manufacturers.

In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic caused a wave of layoffs in Indonesia, again leaving thousands of garment workers vulnerable to paying middlemen in order to get rehired. Transparentem highlighted these issues in the media in late 2020. We continue engagement to spur brands, manufacturers, the Indonesian government, and civil society organizations to act to address these harmful recruitment fees.

The same year, Transparentem disclosed an investigation revealing evidence that migrant workers from Indonesia—who are particularly vulnerable to exploitation and forced labor—paid excessive recruitment-related fees to secure work at garment factories in Malaysia. More information about this investigation can be found here.

Our Work in Indonesia

Our Work in Indonesia

Tarko Sudiarno / AFP / Getty Images

Transparentem’s Indonesia Work in the News

Thomson Reuters Foundation
When Susi, a 25-year-old sewing operator in Indonesia, found work at a garment manufacturer in...