Sustainable palm-oil body slammed over slave labour auditing

By John Wood

- Last updated on GMT

RSPO report: 'No evidence that forced or trafficked labour would be used in the Felda estates.'
RSPO report: 'No evidence that forced or trafficked labour would be used in the Felda estates.'

Related tags: Slavery

A coalition of international labour rights and environmental groups has questioned whether audits carried out by the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) were robust enough to root out members that used slave labour.

It follows an RSPO audit of Malaysian palm oil grower Felda. This was commissioned after an article in The Wall Street Journal​, titled ‘Palm-oil migrant workers tell of labor abuses on Malaysian plantations’​, claiming there was human trafficking, forced labour, and withholding of wages on Felda’s plantations.

No evidence

The RSPO report said “it found no evidence that forced or trafficked labour would be used in the Felda estates included in the assessments”​.

However, the coalition said numerous International Labour Organisation (ILO) indicators of forced or trafficked labour were reported by the audit, but it failed to draw appropriate conclusions.

Audit shortcomings

It added: “Given the shortcomings of the RSPO audit, we call on international buyers and investors to independently and transparently investigate human rights and labour abuses in Felda's plantations using a skilled labour assessor.

“We also call on the RSPO to align its principles and criteria with ILO indicators and to align its audit processes with best practices as outlined in Free and Fair Labour in Palm Oil Production: Principles and Implementation Guidance.”

RSPO was contacted for a comment but failed to respond.

Related topics: Policy, Supply chain, South East Asia

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