Several of the nine major brands challenged by the NGO said they were “concerned” by the allegations.
The oil palm is found in the heart of a new report for the charge. This time, it is not about deforestation, but about exploitation of children and forced labor. Amnesty International denounces “systematic violations of human rights” in oil palm plantations in Indonesia, the main producer of this vegetable oil, in a survey published on Wednesday.
The NGO has surveyed 120 workers who work for Wilmar, a Singapore agri-food company and number one supplier of palm oil. Amnesty states that it is not unusual to see 8 to 14 year olds carrying bags of 12 to 25 kilograms in these plantations, women working “for long hours” for less than the minimum wage, $ 50 per day ($ 2.30); Or workers “suffering serious injuries related to a highly toxic pesticide” and “forced to work without proper protective clothing”.
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“Lack of transparency”
Wilmar does not deny these abuses. In a statement, the palm oil giant acknowledges that there are “labor problems in the palm oil industry” in Indonesia. The country nevertheless has strict legislation and could condemn these shortcomings. But often the law is not enforced.
If Wilmar recognizes that there are abuses in its plantations, Amnesty is pinning groups such as Nestlé, Colgate, Unilever, Kellogg’s or Procter & Gamble that sell Wilmar-supplied palm oil food or cosmetics, and We find in our supermarkets. “These companies turn a blind eye to the exploitation of workers in their manufacturing chain” and “continue to benefit from deplorable illicit practices,” Amnesty said.
And the NGO denounced a “lack of transparency” on the part of these companies who nevertheless assure consumers that their products are certified “sustainable palm oil”. A certification, set up in 2003 by the RSPO (Round Table on Sustainable Palm Oil), which brings together several NGOs and professionals, around principles such as transparency, preservation of natural resources and biodiversity, and … respect for employees.
Nestlé outraged, Colgate “preoccupied”
Trademarks have been slow to react to the Amnesty report. “Practices such as those identified in the Amnesty International report have no place in our supply chain,” said Nestlé. “We will investigate allegations related to our purchases of palm oil alongside our suppliers.” And the brand insures: “If our suppliers do not meet our requirements, including labor rights, We will suspend them. ” Same tone at Colgate who is “concerned about the specific allegations raised by Amnesty International”. “We will hold Wilmar responsible for all questions on this subject,” adds the group, which ensures that it “will not hesitate to put an end to any commercial relationship with a supplier that does not respond to concerns about labor and the man”.
With Malaysia, Indonesia produces more than 80% of the world’s palm oil stocks. This oil is highly prized, especially because it is cost effective and cheap. Faced with global consumption rising sharply over the past 20 years, its production has increased from 15.2 million tonnes in 1995 to 60 million tonnes in 2015. On a regular basis, environmentalists denounce an ecological disaster linked to The production of this vegetable oil. According to WWF, in Indonesia, one million hectares of forest disappear every year.