Indonesian Palm Oil Plantation Abuses Linked to PepsiCo

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Rainforest Action Network (RAN), OPPUK––an Indonesian labor rights advocacy organization––and International Labor Rights Forum (ILRF) have released a follow up report detailing labor abuses on palm oil plantations in Indonesia. The three plantations where the abuses took place are owned and operated by Indofood, the producer of PepsiCo branded products in Indonesia.

Shockingly, the three NGOs note that these same plantations are certified by the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), the major certification mechanism in the palm oil industry, that is tasked with ensuring that palm oil is produced responsibly.

The most recent report finds conditions on the plantations remain largely the same, including high risks of child labor and forced labor conditions, as well as workers who are routinely exposed to highly hazardous pesticides, paid below the minimum wage, illegally kept in a temporary work status to fill core jobs, and deterred from forming independent labor unions, among other findings.

The labor abuses were all documented on plantations certified as “sustainable” by the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO)––the leading certification scheme in the palm oil industry––and which are linked to PepsiCo through its joint venture partnership with Indofood.

Indofood is now the largest private palm oil company in Indonesia that has not strengthened its policies or improved its practices to align with the new benchmark for responsible palm oil: a commitment to no deforestation, no expansion on peatlands, and no violation of worker or human rights throughout the company’s own operations as well as those of third party suppliers.

One of the outstanding problems is a loophole in PepsiCo’s joint venture partnership with Indofood which does not require Indofood to comply with any of PepsiCo’s policies on palm oil.

Herwin Nasution, Executive Director of OPPUK, added, “As the leading certification in the palm oil industry, the RSPO must hold its members accountable. The RSPO can not continue to certify labor abuse, ignoring the plight of workers who face such unique risks.”

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