Press Releases

July 12, 2016

Systemic Labor Abuses, Modern Day Slavery Exposed by Palm Oil Workers’ Stories in New Animated Video

Video follows report exposing egregious labor rights abuses on the palm oil plantations of PepsiCo joint venture partner Indofood

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CONTACT: Emma Rae Lierley, +1.425.281.1989, Emma@ran.org

San Francisco, CA - A short animated video released today by Rainforest Action Network (RAN), OPPUK, an Indonesian labor rights advocacy organization, and International Labor Rights Forum (ILRF) titled, “The Human Cost of Conflict Palm Oil” tells the stories of three palm oil workers, exposing modern day slavery, child labor and systemic labor abuses prevalent throughout the palm oil plantation industry. The video follows the release of a groundbreaking investigative report detailing labor rights abuses documented on two palm oil plantations owned and operated by Indonesian food giant Indofood, a producer of PepsiCo-branded snack foods.

“The abuses highlighted in this video are all too common amongst the millions of workers in the palm oil industry,” said Herwin Nasution, Executive Director of the Indonesian workers’ rights organization, OPPUK. “Brands that use palm oil in their products, like PepsiCo, have known about the pervasive and severe labor abuses rife in the industry and ignored them. But the dirty secret that cheap palm oil comes on the backs of exploited workers can no longer be hidden from the public.”

The video is based on the real stories of three palm oil workers (names are pseudonyms): Manik, who was trafficked into work on a Malaysian palm oil plantation, had his passport taken and was kept trapped in debt; Sutantri, a young mother who accepted part-time work with toxic chemicals so she could provide for her family; and Adi, a father who had to bring his wife and children to work on a plantation so he could make his daily quota and keep his job.

The animated film highlights PepsiCo as a significant buyer of palm oil: purchasing more than 450,000 tons a year. PepsiCo is a laggard amongst its peers, the largest amongst the Snack Food 20 companies which has failed to adopt a responsible palm oil policy that requires all PepsiCo branded products worldwide to use palm oil that is free of deforestation, expansion on peatlands, and human and labor rights abuses. Instead, PepsiCo’s latest palm oil policy, released in September 2015, exempts its joint venture partner Indofood. This means that PepsiCo products made and sold in Indonesia––the frontlines of palm oil-driven deforestation, climate emissions, and human and labor rights abuses––are not required to meet the same responsible standards as PepsiCo products produced elsewhere.

RAN, OPPUK and ILRF highlighted the impacts of PepsiCo’s Indofood exclusion on workers with the latest report “The Human Cost of Conflict Palm Oil: Indofood, PepsiCo’s Hidden Link to Worker Exploitation in Indonesia.” Investigations found child labor, exposure to highly hazardous pesticides, payment below the minimum wage, long-term reliance on temporary workers to fill core jobs, and the use of company-backed unions to deter independent labor union activity, among other abuses, on Indofood plantations. Despite these findings proving that its partner violates PepsiCo’s purported commitments to uphold workers’ rights in its palm oil supply chain, PepsiCo has taken no public action.

“PepsiCo must step up to the calls of its consumers to address its use of Conflict Palm Oil and worker abuses by its partner Indofood,” said Robin Averbeck, senior campaigner at Rainforest Action Network. “The fact that PepsiCo has failed to go on the public record about how it is addressing these egregious labor rights violations is reprehensible. It is time for PepsiCo to stop hiding in the shadows and take responsibility for abuses hidden in its products.”

View the video at ran.org/labor_video

 

For information on the continued consumer pressure on PepsiCo to address the impacts of its use of Conflict Palm Oil, visit ran.org/solidarity.

Download the full report, here.

Download an executive summary of the report, here.

Download a media briefer on Indofood, PepsiCo and palm oil labor rights abuses, here.

 

###

Rainforest Action Network runs hard-hitting campaigns to break North America’s fossil fuels addiction, protect endangered forests and Indigenous rights, and stop destructive investments around the world through education, grassroots organizing, and non-violent direct action. For more information, please visit www.ran.org

The International Labor Rights Forum (ILRF) is a human rights advocacy organization dedicated to achieving just and humane conditions for workers worldwide. ILRF works with trade unions and community-based labor rights advocates to expose violations of workers’ rights, including child and forced labor, discrimination, and violations of workers’ rights to organize and bargain collectively

OPPUK is an Indonesian labor organization founded in 2005 by student activists and workers concerned about palm oil workers’ working and living conditions in North Sumatra, Indonesia. OPPUK organizes and educates workers, conducts research and advocacy, and campaigns for the rights of palm oil workers in North Sumatra and Indonesia more broadly.

Be the first to comment

Please check your e-mail for a link to activate your account.