No compromise on forced labour claims, ministry tells Sime Darby

Sime Darby Plantation told the ministry that it prioritised its workers’ rights in line with its Responsible Agriculture Charter and Human Rights Charter.

PETALING JAYA: The human resources ministry has sought an explanation from Sime Darby Plantation on forced labour allegations, saying that it won’t compromise when it comes to issues of forced labour.

The palm oil giant was last week accused by US-based group Liberty Shared of using child and forced labour on plantations supplying US food and cosmetic companies.

“The ministry will never compromise on the issue of forced labour, regardless of whether it involves local workers or foreign workers,” it said in a statement today.

“The ministry has sought clarification about the allegations from SDP, which then held a meeting with the minister. During the meeting, they denied the allegations.”

SDP told the ministry that it prioritises its workers’ rights in line with its Responsible Agriculture Charter and Human Rights Charter.

The ministry also said this case resembled the accusation that led to the prosecution in court of a group of the country’s biggest glove manufacturers after allegations of forced labour led to restrictions on its exports to the US.

News agency AP earlier reported that Liberty Shared 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.

The allegations, including the withholding of wages, retention of passports and inadequate living conditions, were based on interviews conducted with local and foreign workers over a period of two years.

Sime Darby later denied these allegations.

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