Workers on palm oil plantations are frequently exploited – likewise their children. Solidar Suisse has investigated conditions on the plantations and is campaigning for an improvement in the living and working conditions of migrants in the palm oil industry of Sabah on Borneo. 

Solidar Suisse is working with the partner organisation Asia Monitor Resource Centre (AMRC) on the crosslinking of grassroots organisations fighting for better working conditions and a more sustainable production of palm oil in Southeast Asia.

Together, we investigated the work situation on palm oil plantations in Sabah Province in the Malaysian part of Borneo. Investigations revealed that most of the palm oil workers are migrants from Indonesia, who in many cases do not have a valid work or residence permit, allowing them to fall easy prey to exploitation. The absence of permanent employment contracts and wages dependent on harvesting quotas also leads to child labour, as the often-stateless children have to help their parents achieve unrealistically high harvesting targets. The situation of the women is particularly precarious, as they spray pesticides, thereby risking their health, as the necessary protective clothing is frequently lacking.

Solidar Suisse publicised the findings of this investigation in 2019 and is supporting Indonesian workers in order to enable them to fight for the improvement of their living and working situation.

  • We inform the migrants about their most important employment rights and support their networking and organising. 
  • We campaign for more children to be able to go to school and for improved access to health care for female plantation workers and their children.
  • We facilitate legal advice and support for migrants in emergency situations (e.g. deportations).
  • We explain to potential migrant workers in their places of origin in Indonesia (South Sulawesi and East Nusa Tenggara) about safe migration paths and about their rights and the law in Sabah.

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