They come mainly from Bangladesh, India, Nepal and Indonesia and, as a recent report by the International Labor Organization shows, their rights are no longer respected. Malaysia is the second largest producer of this oil in the world, but in December the European Union banned the importation of products that did not meet certain environmental standards.
Kuala Lumpur () – A new report by the World Labor Organization (ILO) shows that the consequences of declining sales on the international market of palm oil from Malaysia fall mainly on migrant workers from Bangladesh, India, Nepal and Indonesia. They constitute 80% of the workforce in a sector that employs half a million people whose rights are not guaranteed.
“In the oil palm sector,” the ILO notes in its report The Cost of Hope, “employers often confiscate workers’ passports to ensure they do not flee,” a practice prohibited by both international and federal law. local. “There are also companies that require workers to leave their passports in the changing rooms of the plantation head office. The workers would have the keys, but they need permission from management to enter the premises. Where Panji (one of the workers whose story is told in the report), the locker room is located in front of the administration”.
After Indonesia, Malaysia is the world’s second largest producer of palm oil, which accounts for 44% of its exports, and is trying to satisfy a demand of 74 million tons, mainly from Indonesia, India and China.
However, the country is suffering the consequences of the restrictions on imports of palm oil to the European market that were decided in December due to the fact that the production does not meet European environmental standards. Although the European Union, the third world importer of Malaysian palm oil in 2022 (1.47 million tons less than the previous year), denied wanting a total blockade, the Kuala Lumpur government, in agreement with that of Jakarta, is considering unilaterally suspend exports.
The consequences of the policy of the EU and of other importers that could follow its example run the risk of being serious for a country that dedicated 70% of its land to this production, which means 2.3 million hectares in Malaysia alone. peninsular, contributing considerably to deforestation and the threat of extinction of various animal species.
But the consequences could also be devastating in terms of employment, as the situation would force many workers to return or go underground, in an already difficult situation for migrants due to abuse and exploitation, although Malaysia also it has a great need for them in other sectors: just think that there are two million immigrants out of a total of 16 million workers.