Malaysia: Migrant workers abuses reported at Felda palm oil plantation supplying US companies
A Wall Street Journal investigation reported serious allegations of abuses of migrant workers rights at Felda Global Ventures palm oil plantation in Malaysia. Allegations involved links with human traffickers, violence, exploitation and lack of payment of workers. Felda is a member of the Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) and supplies a number of multinational companies including Cargill, Nestlé and Procter & Gamble. After the report, a coalition of NGOs called on the Malaysia government, the RSPO and those international companies to open an investigation into the allegations. Felda has denied all allegations. Cargill, Nestlé and Procter & Gamble said they were unaware of the abuses and will investigate.
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Author: Malay Mail Online
"FGV denies WSJ’s allegations of human rights abuses on plantations", 28 July 2015
Felda Global Ventures...has denied Wall Street Journal...allegations of human rights abuses on its plantations...“FGV currently employs about 33,720 foreign workers (about 85 per cent of our workforce) legally and in full observance of regulatory requirements,” it said. On the minimum wage concerns, FGV said its labour policy was guided by the Malaysian Agriculture Producers Association...“[A]ll foreign workers employed are accorded the same rights and privileges as Malaysians, with our standardised labour policies grounded in Malaysia's labour legislation, as well as in International Labour Organisation Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work,” it said.
Author: Rainforest Action Network
"Joint NGO Statement: Modern Day Slavery Found on RSPO Member Felda Global Venture’s Plantations", 27 July 2015
[A] coalition of civil society groups is calling on the Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) for an open investigation into the abuses. Conditions including human trafficking, forced labor, and withholding of wages were documented, all of which are violations of the RSPO’s Principles and Criteria, as well as basic human rights...“We are calling on the RSPO to openly investigate TheWall Street Journal’s findings,” said...Finnwatch..."If the open investigation confirms the findings of the WSJ, the RSPO must uphold its own Principles and Criteria and suspend Felda’s membership until these very serious violations are proven to be remedied,” she said. International buyers named in the article include Cargill, Procter & Gamble, and Cargill customer Nestlé. Many other major buyers are purchasing from Felda directly and numerous others indirectly.“It is imperative that all international buyers, including Cargill, Procter & Gamble and Nestlé, as well as those unnamed, act immediately to remedy labor violations in their supply chains. If Felda does not remedy all labor violations in a transparent manner, buyers must publicly sever all financial ties with the company,” said...Rainforest Action Network.
Author: Syed Zain Al-Mahmood, Wall Street Journal (USA)
"Palm-Oil Migrant Workers Tell of Abuses on Malaysian Plantations", 26 July 2015
[In Jempol, Malaysia]...among the workers is Mohammad Rubel...who said he has been [working on palm oil plantations] seven days a week, without receiving any pay, since he arrived from Bangladesh...under the auspices of human smugglers. To get here, Mr. Rubel said, he endured three weeks in a crowded boat with inadequate food and water, followed by more weeks confined in a jungle camp while guards extorted a ransom from his parents back home. He said he saw dozens of fellow illegal migrants die from exhaustion, disease or beatings. Many of the undocumented migrants end up in Malaysia, which exports nearly $12 billion of palm oil a year...The plantation where Mr. Rubel works is controlled by Felda Global Ventures...one of the largest producers of crude palm oil. Its customers...include...Cargill..., which resells the oil to multinationals such as Nestlé...and Procter & Gamble...Felda said workers on its plantations...are afforded basic rights and earn the minimum wage. Cargill and its customers said they weren’t aware of alleged labor abuses on palm-oil plantations and would investigate...Felda is a member of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil...The RSPO’s secretary-general...said he was unaware of any abuses faced by workers on Felda plantations but would investigate...Nestlé said it was unaware of conditions at Felda’s plantations but was refocusing resources to “ensure that our responsible sourcing requirements are met” in Malaysia. P&G said it would look into the allegations and “take any necessary corrective action.”