Wilmar and Verité Confront Systemic Labor Issues in Indonesian Palm Oil Industry

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06 Apr 2017 --- Focusing on Wilmar-owned plantations first in Indonesia, Wilmar International Limited and Verité, a global fair labor non-profit organization, are collaborating to develop robust and sustainable solutions to address recurring and systemic labour issues towards improving labour practices in the Indonesian palm oil industry.  

Verité will build on the existing work carried out by Wilmar since August 2016 to identify critical problem areas and root causes of specific labor issues. Following this, Verité will facilitate the development of action plans with clear deliverables, milestones and timeframe, taking into account stakeholder input and recommendations especially for high-risk systemic issues like children in plantations, freedom of association, working hours and labour casualization. Internal systems and processes will be built, as well as internal capacity strengthened, to ensure sustainability and accountability. 
 
Ms Perpetua George, General Manager of Group Sustainability at Wilmar, said, “Our collaboration with Verité is to find real solutions and improvements for people in the oil palm community. It is important that solutions can be replicated in not just our own operations, but also elsewhere in the industry such as with our suppliers. A lot of the issues we see in the oil palm community are entrenched and multi-dimensional; solving these problems are  beyond the capability and capacity of any one company.  The old saying, ‘It takes a village’ certainly rings true, the entire oil palm community needs to work together to address these labour challenges holistically.”  
 
Following the release of its white paper on labour risks in palm oil production, Verité participated in the 2012 review of the RSPO Principles and Criteria that eventually included broader labour standards, including forced and trafficked labour. It is an active member of the RSPO, currently convening the Labour Task Force, and advocating for ethical labour in palm through various RSPO working groups. Verité works closely with a palm oil labour rights coalition made up of Indonesian and Malaysian grassroots organisations and labour unions. 
 
“We welcome Wilmar’s courageous step towards a comprehensive and deep-dive approach to root out the sources of its labour risks, and test some of the solutions that labour groups, including Verité, have been proposing. Stakeholder dialogue and transparency are key principles of this programme, and Verité will be rolling out a stakeholder engagement and reporting mechanism in the next few weeks”, said Mr Enrico Bagadion, Managing Director of Verité Southeast Asia. He continued, “It will be a lot of work, but thirty thousand workers is a compelling proposition. 
 
The project will be implemented in five phases over a 12-month period.   

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