Sime Darby refutes child, forced labour claims by US group

Sime Darby has responded to an NGO called Liberty Shared that has filed a petition to ban the import of its palm oil claiming alleged evidence of child and forced labour on plantations supplying US food and cosmetic companies.

PETALING JAYA: Palm oil giant Sime Darby Plantation (SDP) today responded to a host of allegations by a US-based group on its labour practices, including on wages and recruitment method.

In a 14-page statement, SDP said wages were paid in accordance with the laws, including the Minimum Wages Order (MWO) 2020.

“The minimum wage is stipulated in the employment contracts of both foreign workers and local workers,” it said in response to the claim that foreign workers did not receive the minimum wage or were unable to determine the wage they received.

It also said it had implemented a new salary slip format in June last year to provide clearer details pertaining to wages.

SDP also refuted claims that workers had to pay recruitment fees.

“SDP pays for all official and legal recruitment costs as required by the government of Malaysia, and other costs which include return airfare for the workers, among others.”

It went on to say that since 2016, they had implemented a policy ensuring all foreign workers, involved in its operations in the country, have access to their passports.

This came after the NGO, Liberty Shared, claimed that passports and identity cards of workers had been retained.

“Foreign workers have the option to keep their own passports or request the management to keep it in a safe.

“Workers have free access to their own passports should they decide that the management should keep it,” adding that workers were required to sign a consent letter should they request the management to keep their passports.

On claims of child labour, SDP said they only hire individuals older than 18, a policy which it said had been “implemented since 2010 and is clearly communicated to all our workers and management”.

They, however, admitted the occurrence of an isolated incident in 2008 of child labour at one of its Malaysian operations.

“Necessary action was taken against the estate management.”

SDP’s response comes after they contacted Liberty Shared. Two days ago, SDP said it was in the dark over the specific claims contained in a petition filed by the NGO against it with the US Customs and Border Protection.

The NGO had filed a petition to ban the import of palm oil produced by Sime Darby following alleged evidence of child and forced labour on plantations supplying US food and cosmetic companies.

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