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MPOC Raises Awareness of Positive Labour Practices among Oil Palm Smallholders

April 27, 2024, Bintulu: The Malaysian Palm Oil Council (MPOC) continues to propel the national palm oil industry and enhance the capacity of smallholders in Malaysia through its ongoing workshop series, “Pengenalan Standard MSPO (MS2530:2022) dan Aspek Sosial Dalam Perniagaan”. The workshop was officiated by the Malaysian Minister of Plantation and Commodities, YB Datuk Seri Johari Bin Abdul Ghani.

During the event, YB Datuk Seri Johari also launched a publication titled “Human Rights and Forced Labour in the Palm Oil Industry” which has been published by MPOC in collaboration with the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (SUHAKAM) and the International Labour Organization (ILO). This book is part of a broader initiative to equip stakeholders with the knowledge to recognise signs of forced labour, understand its consequences, and implement measures to resolve these critical issues.

“This book is a significant milestone in our efforts to ensure that every individual in the palm oil industry has knowledge and best practices related to human rights, specifically on forced labour. Through the awareness and actions emphasised in this book, I am confident the Malaysian palm oil industry will serve as a model in upholding the principles of human rights.” – Ms. Belvinder Sron, Chief Executive Officer of MPOC.

This latest session, marking the fifth instalment, was held in collaboration with DOPPA, the Sarawak Department of Labour, Malaysian Council for Anti-Trafficking in Persons and Anti-Smuggling of Migrants (MAPO) the Malaysian Sustainable Palm Oil (MSPO) Certification, the Malaysian Human Rights Commission (SUHAKAM), the Bintulu Inland Revenue Board of Malaysia (LHDNM), and the Bintulu Social Security Organisation (PERKESO). The workshop successfully engaged nearly 400 local smallholders, providing them with crucial insights and tools to enhance their agricultural practices and adhere to sustainable standards.

In his opening speech at the event, Mr. Napoleon Ningkos, President of the Sarawak Dayak Oil Palm Planters Association (DOPPA) said “We are pleased to be able to join hands with MPOC and other organizations in organizing programs like this for DOPPA smallholders. We always try to take the initiative to gain knowledge and skills, to increase the production and yield of our farms”.

The workshop aimed to provide accurate and up-to-date information to smallholders on important labour issues in the sector. Specifically, it delved into the issues of forced labour and child labour which need to be eradicated to ensure a fair and sustainable palm oil industry. Furthermore, the session aimed to elucidate the social dimensions embedded in the revised 2022 MSPO standard, as well as Sarawak Government legislation regarding labour force remuneration, forced labour, and child labour, enhancing the participants’ understanding and compliance with these essential guidelines.

The workshop highlighted concrete steps being taken by the government, palm oil industry players, and local human rights organisations to address labour issues. Participants also gained a holistic view of proactive steps that could be taken to ensure the sustainability of the palm oil industry, while safeguarding workers’ welfare.
The workshop also provided an opportunity for oil palm smallholders in Bintulu to share information, experiences, and challenges they face with the organisers, such as issues regarding the employment of foreign workers and their wages.

Labour issues in the palm oil industry have drawn the attention of the Malaysian government, major palm oil importing countries such as the United States and the European Union, as well as international human rights organisations. Aligning with the government’s goal of eradicating forced and child labour from the palm oil industry by 2030, MPOC is committed to promoting positive labour practices among local smallholders.