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FGV protests US ban over alleged forced labour rights

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A worker trimming leaves on a newly created dwarf palm oil tree. AFP

KUALA LUMPUR (Malay Mail) – Malaysia’s FGV Holdings Berhad has expressed its disappointment in the United States’ Customs and Border Protection (USCBP) agency for blocking the import of its palm oil and palm oil products on grounds of alleged forced labour.

It said steps have been taken to demonstrate FGV’s commitment to respect human rights and to uphold labour standards in the past several years which the company, one of the world’s largest palm oil producers, said is well-documented and in the public domain.

“FGV would like to emphasise that all issues raised have been the subject of public discourse since 2015 and FGV has taken several steps to correct the situation,” it said in a statement.

Since August 2019, FGV has been communicating with the USCBP through its legal counsel since August 2019, and has submitted evidence of compliance of labour standards as committed by FGV.

“We will continue to engage with the USCBP to clear FGV’s name, and are determined to see through its commitment to respect human rights and uphold labour standards,” it said.

FGV cited several examples of the steps it has taken, such as the strengthening of its procedures and processes in the recruitment of migrant workers by establishing four One-Stop Centres in Malaysia and in source countries including India and Indonesia.

“This is part of our efforts to strengthen the pre-departure and post-arrival orientation programmes for our migrant workers. Through these orientation sessions our migrant workers are briefed on various matters including the terms of their employment, job scope and nature of work, rights and responsibilities, as well as benefits and entitlements.

“FGV has also adopted its Guidelines and Procedures for the Responsible Recruitment of Migrant Workers in 2019 in accordance with international standards and will continue to strengthen the document. FGV is committed to paying official costs associated with the recruitment of migrant workers, which include airfare and costs for work permit, visa, medical check-up and insurance, and has also revised its contract with recruitment agencies to require them to ensure that no fees are charged on the workers,” it said.

The company denied involvement in any recruitment or employment of refugees, adding that as of 2020, it recruits migrant workers mainly from India and Indonesia through legal channels and processes recognised and approved by the Malaysian authorities and the source countries.

“As of August, FGV has 11,286 Indonesian workers and 4,683 Indian workers, who together, form the majority of its plantation workforce. Furthermore, FGV does not hire contract workers and all workers are employed directly by us.”

 

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