The destruction of rainforests, the stealing of local communities’ and Indigenous Peoples’ lands, and the massive greenhouse gas emissions caused by the draining and burning of peatlands for the production of Conflict Palm Oil have all made frequent international headlines in the last few years. However, the working and living conditions of laborers on palm oil plantations are rarely closely examined or discussed.
Geographically isolated, and with little social or economic mobility, most palm oil workers’ stories stay confined to the remote plantations where they live and work. Increasingly, a number of recent reports from civil society, independent researchers, and journalistic investigations have shed a light on the concerning conditions faced by palm oil workers. These reports highlight a pattern of egregious labor violations on palm oil plantations across the globe.1