Felda Global Ventures (FGV)

The relevant RSPO case trackers which are related to:

  • Wall Street Journal article can be found here.
Date Progress
July 2015 The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) published an article titled, “Palm Oil Migrant Workers tell of abuses on Malaysian Plantation”, highlighting that Felda Global Ventures (FGV) was allegedly exploiting human and labor rights.
We applied ‘controlled purchase’ in July 2015 and we continue to monitor the development of the complaint with RSPO.
August 2015 FGV set up a sustainability response team to look into the criticisms raised by the stakeholders. For more information, please refer to its website for the progress to date.
October 2015 The WSJ case is also lodged with the RSPO Complaints Panel. The case can be found here.

As a member of the RSPO, we respect the RSPO Complaints procedure and we will act in accordance with any decision made by the Complaints Panel of the RSPO.

March 2016 FGV published a social verification report on its operations.
July 2016 FGV published an action plan on re-certification of its mills, following the WSJ complaint and ASI audit verification findings. We reviewed the trade relations with FGV and its action plan.

We decided to resume trade relations with FGV after determining their commitment towards publishing an action plan.

August 2016 We had a meeting with FGV’s management on sustainability options and requested to visit its mill.

We engaged with Greenpeace via email and informed that we have applied a controlled purchase condition from October 2015 – May 2016 and started the purchase from May 2016 – November 2016.

January 2017 FGV further reported progress on its sustainability initiatives.
February 2017 FGV engaged TFT to publish a transformation report.
May 2017 The RSPO Complaints Panel will review the action plan on the WSJ complaint.
October 2017 FGV published its Action Plan implementation updates.
April 2018 FGV announced the progress update on its social compliance and human rights initiatives related to the allegations by the Wall Street Journal (WSJ), peat and the High Carbon Stock (HCS) approach.

The document lists all the actions which have been undertaken to address the allegation and timelines.

The progress report can be found here.

May 2018 Musim Mas followed up with FGV, to engage them on their labour and peat issues.
FGV published a statement reaffirming its stance on sustainability commitments.
November 2018 RSPO Complaints Panel released a public announcement on its decision on the case here. A decision was made for the Certification Body to suspend FGV’s P&C certificate for Kilang Sawit Serting and its supply bases, and the suspension will only be lifted once FGV has satisfied the Complaints Panel directives in the letter.

FGV published a statement regarding the RSPO decision letter here, affirming their compliance to all of RSPO’s Principles and Criteria by taking several immediate measures to address all the issues raised.

December 2018 On 07 December, FGV issued a letter to all its business partners, reaffirming its commitment to the RSPO and announcing a transformation program it has developed to restore the integrity of its operations.

On 14 December, FGV published its report on its progress in Serting Estates that is the subject of the RSPO’s investigations.

March 2019 RSPO has approved FGV’s request for an extension to submit their action plan.
June 2019 On 21 June, FGV published a letter to all its shareholders, sharing their progress on their operational transformation. The letter also addresses RSPO’s ongoing certifications on Serting Estate. They confirmed that FGV submitted an action plan and that RSPO will conduct another audit in Serting to verify their progress.

24 June 2019:

Grant & Eisenhofer ESG Institute sent a petition titled, “Grant & Eisenhofer ESG Institute Petitions US Government to Block Importation of Palm Oil Produced by FGV Holdings Berhad in Malaysia, Based on Evidence of Child and Forced Labor Practices” to US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) for a ban on importation of palm oil produced by FGV due to widespread evidence of forced labour and illegal child labour practices within their plantations.

26 June 2019:

FGV published a response to Grant & Eisenhofer’s petition on their website on the 26 June 2019. FGV stressed that the issues raised in the petition were since 2015 and that they have taken the necessary actions to correct the non-compliances raised. The response includes the Quarterly Progress Report of the Action Plan implementation.

July 2019 We had a physical meeting on 19 July 2019 at the FGV’s head office with FGV’s Head of Sustainability Engagement and his team.

The discussion was with regards to the Grant & Eisenhofer’s petition and FGV’s action plan and implementation progress as well as other initiatives that FGV is planning to take to ensure all the action plans are implemented progressively.

August 2019 05 August 2019:

RSPO published a letter to announce the Complaints Panel decision to lift the suspension on FGV’s Serting Complex as FGV had fulfilled the major conditions set out by the Complaints Panel.

RSPO closed the case on 05 August 2019.

FGV also published a statement on their website on RSPO’s decision to lift the suspension on their Serting Complex. The statement by FGV can be found here.

15 August 2019:

International Labor Rights Forum (ILRF), Rainforest Action Network and SumOfUs petition titled, “NGOs Call on US Customs to Block Import of Forced Labour Palm Oil”.

NGOS petitioned to US CBP for a ban on importation of palm oil produced by FGV due the labour and human rights issues and called for global brands to publicly cut ties with FGV.

FGV has released their response to the latest petition by ILRF, RAN and SumOfUs to US CBP on 19 August 2019. Their response can be found here.
September 2019 We received a statement from FGV’s Group CEO dated 17 September 2019 that reiterates and affirms their commitment to uphold human rights and international labour standards throughout their operations. The letter can be found here.

FGV, together with Procter & Gamble (P&G) will be undertaking a long-term collaboration with international civil society groups to improve on labour standards and human rights. P&G released a statement on their support for the project on their website and their statement can be found here.

January 2020 We take note of the RSPO CP letter dated 13 January 2020 and of the suspension of the RSPO P&C certificate of Kilang Sawit Serting. We also note that FGV have published their answer here.

Kilang Sawit Serting is entered into the Musim Mas Controlled Purchase Protocol as of 21 January 2020, and FGV have been so informed.

As per our CPP, we are deferring to the RSPO process, and will follow closely the developments of the case.

The RSPO Complaints Panel (CP) published a decision letter (dated 13 January 2020) about non-compliance with an earlier Complaints Panel Decision. The letter can be found here.

Following the conditional lifting of the suspension of FGV’s Kilang Sawit Serting and its supply bases in August 2019, the Certification Bodies (CB) were instructed to carry out verification audits on six different FGV units. The audits results have been found to be unsatisfactory, and non-compliances were noted.

The RSPO Secretariat is required to instruct the CB to re-suspend FGV’s P&C certificate for Kilang Sawit Serting and its supply bases, and to suspend all certification processes for the uncertified management unit within FGV, effective 13 January 2020. Lifting of the suspension are conditional upon FGV’s satisfactory implementation of the CP’s decision.

The other 34 RSPO-certified manangement units of FGV remain certified.

RSPO published a statement regarding CP’s decision on FGV Holdings here.

April 2020 In April, FGV submitted a Letter of Appeal to the Complaints Panel, stating that the appeal was filed within 60 working days, in accordance to the RSPO Procedures in Section 14.2.1.1.

The appeal letter highlighted three main points, which you may refer to here:

  • the circumstances out of which this appeal arise from;
  • the issues arising in the FGV appeal; and
  • the contentions and arguments raised by FGV and their reasons.

In it, they stated that the decision to re-suspend the Serting Mill Complex was vague, and for RSPO to consider that their work and efforts to implement measures and corrective actions takes time. FGV contended that several non-compliances identified were found in complexes that were not ready for auditing. They also stated that they have maintained full transparency at all times, and have been publishing their progress reports to RSPO as requested, however several directives have been held back due to COVID-19 restrictions.

June 2020 RSPO Complaints Panel responded to FGV’s Letter of Appeal dated 03 April 2020. The letter informed FGV an appeal is limited to a Complaints Panel Decision as defined in Section 2.8. The Complaints Panel Decision was delivered on 28 December 2018, and as such the appeal letter from FGV would not be accepted.

RSPO also gave the approval to FGV to submit an updated timeline of deadlines which have been affected by the pandemic, within 30 days of the letter. This was taking into consideration of FGV’s previous appeal stating that Covid-19 pandemic has affected the implementation of the Complaints Panel Decision.

July 2020

 

FGV submitted their action plan dated 03 July 2020, which can be referred to here.

FGV also submitted the updated timeline of directives that were affected by the Covid-19 pandemic to RSPO for their review. Two activities that FGV indicated was affected was that of:

  1. Regularisation of workers in Sabah – expected date of completion by end of December 2020
  2. New housing for workers – expected date of completion by end of December 2020
August 2020 IMU presented the post-complaints monitoring update to the Complaints Panel.
September 2020

 

The US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) issued a “Withhold Release Order” on palm oil and palm products made by FGV on 30 September 2020, following the complaint submitted by a coalition of NGO in 2019.

The same day, the US-headquartered non-profit group, Fair Labor Association (FLA), released a progress report about FGV, which showed genuine progress and detailed coming milestones. The progress report can be found here.

October 2020 FGV issued a new statement about the steps taken since 2015 to correct issues and further improve the labor practices in their operations. An updated statement on the clarification on CBP’s Withhold Release Order (WRO) can be found here.

As part of their commitments to fulfilling the rights of workers to adequate housing, FGV invested RM350 million over the past three years, to build and upgrade housing facilities for its plantation workers, which can be referred to here. FGV also detailed their commitment to respecting child rights and their right to education by taking the initiative to invest RM5 million in establishing 11 Community Learning Centres (CLC) in Sabah. The statement can be found here.

December 2020 FGV released another statement in December updating its steps to address the Withhold Release Order (WRO) issued by US CBP. The statement can be found here.

FGV have been continuously showing their commitment to respecting human rights and upholding labour standards. In December, they released statement to declare that they will allocate RM5.6 million per year for a health facility for its 28,000 migrant workers, in a bid to ensure all employees on its plantations have access to health rights. They also committed to ensuring that all workers whose contracts have been completed were provided with a safe passage home, with costs of their return covered by FGV, the statement can be found here.

January 2021 Presently, the complaint is pending update on the verification audit from Investigation & Monitoring Unit (IMU) since September 2020. We are monitoring the case on FGV very closely.

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