FGV commits to human rights

The company aims to eliminate practices indicative of labour exploitation to ensure best labour practices are observed

by NUR HAZIQAH A MALEK / pic by MUHD AMIN NAHARUL

FGV Holdings Bhd announced that it will be taking a systematic approach upon receiving the withhold release order (WRO) issued by the US Custom and Border Protection (CBP) by eliminating practices indicative of labour exploitation.

The agricultural and agri-commodities company said the move is to ensure best labour practices are observed in accordance with international standards throughout its entire operations.

“FGV is committed to ensuring the completion of its ongoing efforts towards further improving the hard infrastructure of its facilities within a reasonable period of time, for the benefit of its workers.

“This includes added improvements on housing, clinics, schools, shops and places of worship,” it said in a statement yesterday.

The company on Oct 8 communicated with the CBP via conference call to seek clarification on the allegations of forced labour within FGV’s plantation.

“The CBP, however, did not reveal any information about its findings except that its research identified 11 International Labour Organisation’s indicators of forced labour in FGV’s practices.

“The CBP did not disclose any further information about its findings, including the nature or locations of any incidence linked to such indicators,” it said.

The company received the WRO on Sept 30 against its palm oil and palm oil products, which it said was based on information from a year-long investigation that reasonably indicates the use of forced labour.

“FGV would like to reiterate that all issues raised by the CBP have been the subject of public discourse since 2015, and FGV has been rigorously working towards the enhancement of its labour practices.

“FGV’s continuous effort in ensuring the implementation of FGV’s human rights and labour policies on the ground is evidenced by the various initiatives and programmes that FGV has embarked on, in particular its affiliation to the Fair Labour Association (FLA),” it said.

The company also appointed an independent advisory panel to provide insight on matters relating to governance and sustainability, including labour matters.

In the meantime, the company said it will continue to engage with CBP to keep them updated on the measures taken by the company and its ongoing initiatives for labour and human rights.

Meanwhile, on Oct 15, the company stated that it would be appointing an independent third-party audit firm for an imminent audit of its operations.

“After further deliberation by the board, the company decided to revisit this appointment after FGV is satisfied that all of the above measures have been strengthened and implemented accordingly.

“At the same time, FGV remains committed to implementing its action plan under its affiliation with the FLA,” it said.

The action plan can be accessed via the company’s website, and the next progress report will be published on March 31, 2021.

Simultaneously, the company is also awaiting an official notice from the Federal Land Development Authority (Felda) on the termination of the land lease agreement. The company said it had written to Felda, and the situation is still status quo