FGV appoints independent advisory panel, reiterates commitment to work with US agency on labour allegations

G. Prakash
·2-min read
FGV Holdings assured the US Customs and Border Protection agency they would be updated on FGV’s various labour and human rights measures and initiatives. — Picture by Choo Choy May
FGV Holdings assured the US Customs and Border Protection agency they would be updated on FGV’s various labour and human rights measures and initiatives. — Picture by Choo Choy May

KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 3 — FGV Holdings Bhd today said it is committed to addressing the Withhold Release Order (WRO) issued by the US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) against the group’s palm oil exports.

The Malaysian palm oil giant said the issues raised by the US agency recently on October 1 have actually been the subject of public discourse since 2015.

It stressed that it is continuously working to improve its governance, which includes sustainability and labour practices, to meet international standards.

“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 Labor Association (FLA).

“FGV has also appointed the Independent Advisory Panel to advise FGV on matters relating to governance and sustainability including labour matters,” it said in a statement.

The corporation assured the CBP that the agency would be updated on FGV’s various labour and human rights measures and initiatives.

FGV has repeatedly been forced to fend off allegations of labour and human rights violations in the treatment of its workers.

In response to the allegations, the company previously said on October 15 that it is appointing an independent third-party to audit its operations.

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

FGV also said it has asked the CBP to clarify the allegations of forced labour within its plantations, but said the US agency has not revealed any information about its findings, including the nature or locations of any incidents.

“Therefore, FGV has decided to take a systematic approach in ensuring that the rights of its workers are respected and protected, thereby eliminating practices indicative of labour exploitation.

“This is to ensure that the best labour practices are observed in accordance with international standards throughout its entire operations,” the palm oil producer said.

CBP has been reported saying its research had identified 11 International Labour Organization indicators of forced labour in FGV’s practices.

On October 1, Bloomberg reported that the US agency blocked imports of FGV’s palm oil and palm oil products on the grounds that a yearlong investigation “reasonably indicates” the use of forced labour.

Shipments from the company and its subsidiaries were detained at all ports of entry to the US effective October 7.

Palm oil is a key commodity in Malaysia, which is the world’s second-largest producer after Indonesia.

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