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 from KLK.
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.