Indonesia: Wilmar allegedly tries to cover up labour abuses exposed in 2016 Amnesty report; company denies allegation

Background:

-  Amnesty International’s 2016 report ‘The Great Palm Oil Scandal: Labour Abuses Behind Big Brand Names’, stated that labour practices used at Wilmar plantations include child labour, forced labour, exposure to dangerous conditions and endemic discrimination against women.

-   Despite making a commitment to investigate the findings of the report and announcing that would it hire a consultancy for this purpose, Amnesty International has found no convincing evidence that Wilmar has addressed key issues including the use of high targets and piece rate which contributes to child labour, exploitation of female workers, and non-payment of the minimum wage.

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Article
20 March 2017

Indonesia: Government must investigate Wilmar labour practices as company attempts to cover up abuse claims

Author: Amnesty International

7 Mar 2017

Agri giant Wilmar’s campaign to cover up labour abuses exposed in a damning Amnesty International report is being aided by the Indonesian government’s failure to investigate claims against the palm oil company.

Despite reports that the authorities would create a special task force to probe human rights abuses detailed in the report, The Great Palm Oil Scandal: Labour Abuses Behind Big Brand Names’, no progress has been made. Meanwhile, Wilmar has tried to intimidate staff into denying the claims.

“Workers on plantations live in fear of reprisals for speaking out about their poor working conditions. Such reprisals could include being moved away from their families to a different plantation, or even losing their job entirely,” said Seema Joshi, Head of Amnesty International’s Business and Human Rights team…

At a meeting with trade union representatives in January, Wilmar asked workers to sign a document which stated that the abuses outlined in the Amnesty International report were not taking place on their plantations…

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Article
7 March 2017

Palm oil giant denies covering up labour abuses in Indonesia

Author: Beh Lih Yi, Thomson Reuters Foundation

Palm oil giant Wilmar…denied accusations by a rights group that it had intimidated workers in an attempt to cover up a string of labour abuses from child labour to low wages on its Indonesian plantations.

Amnesty International in an investigation last November had found children as young as eight worked in "hazardous" conditions at palm plantations run by the Singapore-based firm and its suppliers in Indonesia.

Based on interviews with 120 workers, the rights group also claimed many of the workers worked long hours for low pay and without adequate safety equipment.

Amnesty said in a statement…that Wilmar - the world's largest palm oil processor - had asked its workers to sign a document to deny the investigation findings during a recent meeting with trade union representatives.

Wilmar rejected the claim and said the union representatives had "voluntarily" signed the letters as "a show of support" to the company…

Amnesty's investigation has found global consumer firms including Unilever, Nestle, Kellogg and Procter & Gamble, have sourced palm oil from Wilmar's plantations which are linked to the reported labour abuses.

The consumer firms have pledged to work with Wilmar to remedy any rights violations in their supply chain…

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