Grievance Resolution Procedure Seeks to Respond to Stakeholder Concerns

Sustainability Dashboard which also includes fact sheets and other resources. APRIL’s Grievance Resolution Mechanism has since received encouraging reactions from local communities in Riau province dealing with other complaints.

By Community and Stakeholder Design  

Designing and implementing a new Grievance Resolution Procedure was the product of extensive consultation under the auspices of the APRIL Stakeholder Advisory Committee (SAC). This took place in Pekanbaru throughout 2016, where community groups were invited to look at past processes and give input on how they could be improved in the new model. This process was followed by wider engagement involving local and national NGOs and other stakeholders to ensure that it achieved broad acceptance.

The procedure that emerged allows local communities, individuals and other stakeholders – including government organisations and NGOs – to raise any issues they may have related to APRIL’s operations or its suppliers. It now stands as one of the checks and balances in place alongside the implementation of APRIL’s SFMP 2.0.

In designing the Grievance Resolution Procedure, it was important that there be a clear understanding among local communities of the process for raising and resolving emerging issues or grievances. A socialization program was devised, kicking-off with an external workshop with NGOs in Pekanbaru in October 2016, where the new agreed protocol was explained, including walking through the steps and the reporting and communications processes.

Also in October, a series of internal socialisation meetings and workshops were held with estate managers, members of the community and government relations teams and suppliers. This was followed by a meeting in February 2017 with estate managers, who then shared their knowledge of the process with village communities.

Spreading the Word

From APRIL’s perspective, awareness of the procedure and a willingness by the community to lodge grievances is key for the mechanism to work.

“We want people in the communities where we operate to feel comfortable that they can lodge any grievance or issue they might have,” said Rudi Fajar, Director RAPP. “We want communities to know and trust that there is an effective system in place if there is a problem, and to be confident that issues they raise will be reviewed and resolved fairly and in a timely way.”

The Grievance Resolution Procedure addresses any type of stakeholder of community issue except for land disputes, for which there is a separate, defined procedure, and where government input or official process is often required.

Grievances raised since the launch of the Grievance Resolution Procedure have been as diverse as speed controls for logging trucks in residential areas, the condition of livelihood plantations, company recruitment policies and road watering routines. Complainants can raise their grievances with Estate personnel or online, and have the option to remain anonymous. While socialisation continues, and recognizing that not all community members will have access to an online system, grievances verbally received are then logged in the system by the receiving team.

An Early Warning System

Following the initial response, APRIL has stepped up efforts to raise awareness of the procedure in communities within the company’s concessions with the Grievance Processing Unit (GPU) now embarking on a second round of socialization, including estate teams meeting with community leaders and villagers. At the estate level, APRIL’s social and government relations’ manager is a key figure in promoting the resolution mechanism.

“This continues to be work in progress and we’re really keen for this process to serve its purpose,” added Rudi Fajar. “We are even seeing the Grievance Processing Unit starting to function as an early warning system to identify problems before they become grievances. That’s important, because this Procedure is one of the essential checks and balances that need to be in place to respond to issues that matter to the communities and other stakeholders,” he said.

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