While it’s been publicly recognised that when grown unsustainably, palm oil can have negative environmental impacts, labour issues and related social impacts have had less attention, until more recently. Various NGO’s and media have highlighted poor working conditions in oil palm plantations, such as excessive working hours, occupational health and safety hazards, and more seriously, child labour, forced labour, and the trafficking of migrant workers, among other issues.
Responsively, RSPO has identified the need to actively address these concerns and have formed the RSPO Labour Rights Task Force (LTF), with the aim of achieving the following objectives:
- Strengthen RSPO's labour protection standards and processes
- Improve the level of standards' implementation and compliance among members
- Develop a comprehensive program that addresses the current gaps in the existing systems and the implementation challenges faced by different stakeholders
The task force is committed to focusing on the following tasks, in order to achieve the above objectives:
- Asses growers', millers' and smallholders' current level of compliance to labour standards or effectiveness of implementation towards determining priority challenges and gaps, and providing input to the P&C review process
- Develop a labour standards and protocols guidance document for reference in the upcoming P&C review
- Develop a labour implementation guidance document
- Develop a comprehensive learning agenda and relevant training courses for all relevant stakeholders including auditors, certification bodies and growers
- Ensure consistency with the Complaints System in relation to development of standards and procedures for investigation and response to ensure worker protection, anonymity, privacy and non-reprisal as well as make relevant recommendations as and when requested.
- Formulate recommendations on various issues, e.g., worker representation, alternative livelihoods, and robust monitoring and oversight of labour-related concerns.
The task force is led by Verite SEA and has a balanced representation of all stakeholders, including individuals who have strong technical knowledge and experience with labour issues, which will help to drive and guide the task force to meet its intention, with the required momentum. Further information and updates on the Labour Rights Task Force will be available on the website soon.