Kuala Lumpur, 30 November 2016 – Today, Amnesty International has published a report entitled “The great palm oil scandal: Labour abuses behind big brand names”.
The RSPO fully acknowledges the existence of serious problems in the protection of workers and human rights in the global intensive agriculture sector, including the oil palm sector. These problems are exacerbated when linked to poverty, weak law enforcement and the presence of legislative gaps – as underlined by Amnesty itself – contributing to the challenge of making agriculture and specifically the oil palm sector truly sustainable.
The report covers a series of labour and human right abuses affecting palm oil workers in two Wilmar subsidiaries, PT Perkebunan Milano and PT Daya Labuhan Indah, and three Wilmar suppliers, Sarana Prima Multi Niaga (SPMN), PT Abdi Budi Mulia (ABM) and PT Hamparan Masawit Bangun Persada (PT Hamparan). The report makes reference to employment practices that are not only non-compliant with the RSPO requirements but are also illegal. This publication will encourage RSPO stakeholders to focus their efforts in eradicating labour practices that are not compliant with the RSPO requirements.
Important steps have been taken prior to the publication of the Amnesty International report by Wilmar and the RSPO assurance process, which have already identified many of the issues raised in the report.
Wilmar has already been voluntarily and publicly reporting on their website the issues related to PT Perkebunan Milano and PT Daya Labuhan Indah, through Wilmar’s grievance procedure (as highlighted in Wilmar’s recent statement) and in accordance with what is required by Criterion 6.3 of the RSPO Principles and Criteria.
PT Perkebunan Milano (PT Milano), PT Daya Labuhan Indah and Sarana Prima Multi Niaga (SPMN) are RSPO certified and as such they are regularly audited by their certification bodies. PT Abdi Budi Mulia (ABM) and PT Hamparan Masawit Bangun Persada (PT Hamparan) are not RSPO members and as such fall outside the scope of the RSPO oversight mechanisms.
PT Perkebunan Milano and its certification body have been subject to an ASI compliance assessment in October 2016. The ASI audit found both major and minor non-compliances, some of which (health and safety, labour conditions, pay and wage issues) are in line with what raised by the Amnesty International report. The audit report is available on the ASI website. The resolution of these problems is ongoing.
The latest surveillance audit of PT Daya Labuhan Indah was conducted in August 2016. During the audit, the certification body (PT. Mutuagung Lestari) has highlighted major and minor non compliances. The non-compliances covered by the certification body included shortfalls related to compliance with legal requirements, health and safety and application of pesticides, among others. The highlighted non-compliances have since been corrected by PT Daya Labuhan Indah and closed out by the certification body. RSPO is awaiting for the full audit report from the certification body and have tasked ASI to follow up on these findings.
Finally PT Sarana Prima Multi Niaga was recently certified by Control Union (Malaysia) Sdn. Bhd. The audit report (available here) listed a number of minor non compliances, of which some are related to the issues tabulated in the Amnesty International report. ASI will follow up with the certification body to ensure full compliance of the certificate holder.
At the same time, the RSPO is conscious of the need to continuously improve the RSPO Principles & Criteria and related accreditation requirements. The new accreditation requirements that will be implemented in 2017 will increase the area that the certification bodies will have to sample, improve the competence of the auditors and in general strengthen oversight by both the certification bodies and ASI.
To further strengthen its assurance framework and deliver the credibility demanded by stakeholders, RSPO welcomes a constructive dialogue with all interested parties in the framework of the RSPO Assurance Task Force, which aims at improving the effectiveness of how RSPO checks on compliance.