|Plantation labor instead of school: the cruel fate of a little girl (photo: Jason Motlagh / Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting)|
They are forced into the toughest and most dangerous jobs, held
captive, beaten, and cheated of their wages: men, women and children
toiling seven days a week in virtual slavery.
Journalist Benjamin Skinner and his team devoted nine months to
studying working conditions on oil palm plantations in Indonesia. Bloomberg Businessweek
has now published their shocking findings: workers on the Malaysian KLK
Group’s monocultures were lured by false promises, deprived of their
personal documents and commandeered into forced labor.
Already in 2010, the environmental NGO Rainforest Action Network (RAN) accused the KLK group and its customers of grave human-rights violations.
With 200,000 hectares of plantations, KLK is the fifth-largest palm oil
producer in the world. Western corporations such as Cargill are among
its customers. Cargill alone reportedly sourced 27,000 tons of palm oil
The U.S.-based multinational then supplies the imported oil to major
food manufacturers such as Nestlé, Kellogg’s and Unilever, and to the
biodiesel industry. The products of slave labor are thus making their
way onto our dinner tables and into our fuel tanks in the form of
margarine, cereals, chocolate spread and biodiesel.
Rainforest Rescue and RAN are calling on Cargill and its
customers to stop trading in the palm oil that is so detrimental to
people and the environment.