Forged in Silence – The Untold Stories of Chinese Workers at Indonesia’s Nickel Plants

On December 24th 2023, two of China Labor Watch’s staff traveled to a remote nickel plant in Indonesia to investigate reported labor violations and speak with workers. Two weeks later, an explosion occurred at the same plant, resulting in 22 fatalities. Our staff was not injured, but just days before they had published a report detailing our findings. 

The overall findings of the investigations these past two years, as well as footage from the recent explosion, is included in an animated short documentary titled, “Forged in Silence – The Untold Stories of Chinese Workers at Indonesia’s Nickel Plants.” The script was co-written by a former employee worker at the nickel plant in question. 

The documentary portrays the real life experiences of Chinese nickel workers in Indonesia. Based on interviews, site visits, and long-term investigations, the short provides unique insight into the day-to-day realities of migrant workers in industrial nickel plants. Following the story of Li, a fictional representation of the many Chinese nickel smelting plant workers, he recounts his experience living and working at Tsingshan Indonesia Morowali Industrial Park (IMIP). 

Facing wage withholdings, illegal contracting practices, workplace injuries and deaths, dangerous conditions, abuse, and an overall culture of silence, Li describes how Chinese workers face discrimination and conditions of forced labor within IMIP. He shares the exploitation faced by Chinese workers daily, being unable to live freely or advocate for their rights.

Including real life footage of the fatal explosion as well as the many workplace accidents which continue to take place in these overseas locations, the documentary urges viewers to hear the silenced voices of Chinese workers in Indonesia. 

China Labor Watch calls on company representatives and government authorities to strengthen labor inspections and protections for workers, create independent channels for all workers to file grievances, and work with unions and civil society organizations to hold responsible parties accountable and ensure that stories like Li’s do not continue to occur. 

The full documentary can be found here.