Working conditions at IOI estates have improved also in Sabah in Malaysia


According to a new Finnwatch's report, the palm oil giant IOI Group has continued to make improvements to working conditions at its oil palm estates. However, there are still some problems that the company needs to address.

– During the Finnwatch investigation, no blatant violations of labour rights were found on the oil palm estates. In many respects, things have moved forward: as a general rule, minimum wage legislation is respected, charging recruitment fees to the workers has been reduced and the workers' passports are no longer confiscated. Workers' living quarters appear adequate and children in school, said Sonja Vartiala, Finnwatch's Executive Director.

The problems that need attention relate to the informal work that the workers’ spouses perform on the estates, human rights risks related to the use of temporary agency workers, annual leave and the lack of trade unions.

Informal work exposes spouses to problems, for example, in the event of accidents at work.

– Sometimes workers’ spouses participate in the work on the estates without a contract and the pay for their work is included in the pay offered to the spouse with a formal contract. Informal work exposes them to problems, for example, in the event of accidents at work, says Vartiala.

Finnwatch's report also recommends to the certification scheme Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) to revise its criteria to address the above-mentioned problems.

Finnwatch has been monitoring the working conditions on the IOI Group's estates since 2014. Since then, the company has made progress in its social responsibility work in many ways.

For the report, Finnwatch interviewed 30 IOI Group workers, visited workers' lodgings, reviewed company internal documents, and interviewed both local and the Group management. Finnwatch, however, calls for caution in drawing conclusions.

– IOI chose the estates where Finnwatch's local researcher was allowed to visit. It is possible that if the interviews had been conducted at randomly selected estates, the results would have been different.

Additional information:

Sonja Vartiala

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