FGV Holdings (FGV) has released a statement reiterating that it is fully committed to respecting human rights and to upholding labour standards.

It said: "In line with our commitment to the Sustainable Development Goals and to the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, FGV's sustainability and human rights agenda remain a top priority as we continue to dedicate our energy to enhance our labour practices.

"In this regard, we have been steadfast in taking concrete steps over the past several years, and this is evidenced by the various initiatives and programmes that FGV has embarked on."

Sharing an example, the Malaysia-based agri-business said it continues to strengthen its procedures and processes in the recruitment of migrant workers, with the establishment of four one-stop centres in Malaysia and in source countries (India and Indonesia). This, it added, is part of the company's efforts to strengthen the pre-departure and post-arrival orientation programmes for the migrant workers.

Through these sessions, the migrant workers are briefed on various matters including the terms of their employment, job scope and nature of work, rights and responsibilities, as well as benefits and entitlements.

FGV has also adopted its Guidelines and Procedures for the Responsible Recruitment of Migrant Workers in 2019 in accordance with international standards and will continue to strengthen the document.

"Under the Guidelines, FGV is committed to paying official costs associated with the recruitment of migrant workers, which include airfare and costs for work permit, visa, medical check-up and insurance. FGV has also revised its contract with recruitment agencies to require them to ensure that no fees are charged on the workers."

In relation to this, the company emphasised that it is not involved in any recruitment or employment of refugees. Additionally, it noted that effective 2020, it now recruits its migrant workers mainly from India and Indonesia, through legal channels and processes recognised and approved by both the Malaysian and source countries' authorities.

As of August 2020, FGV has 11,286 Indonesian workers and 4,683 Indian workers, who together, form the majority of FGV’s plantation workforce; it does not hire contract workers and all workers are employed directly by FGV.

"In keeping with our commitment to promote the enjoyment of the rights of workers to adequate housing, FGV has over the past three years, invested approximately MYR350mn to upgrade housing facilities for its workers by constructing new residences in our plantations all over the country.

"As for compensation, FGV pays, at the very least, minimum wage to our workers in accordance with the Minimum Wages Order 2020 enforced by the Government of Malaysia."

Additionally, FGV also said it is pioneering the implementation of the electronic wallet (e-wallet) cashless payroll system for its plantation workers. The e-wallet system, which acts as a more convenient and efficient way for workers to manage their finances, was successfully rolled out since February 2020 in Gua Musang, Kelantan, involving 1,500 registered users in 11 of its estates. By Q1 2021, the firm aims to implement this system for its entire plantation sector including estates in Sabah and Sarawak.

Apart from the above, the company has also highlighted various other actions in support of its efforts to respect workers' rights:

  • FGV does not practise the retention of its workers’ passports and has installed a total of 32,250 safety boxes throughout all its 68 complexes, as an option for migrant workers to keep their passports safely.
  • The workers’ right to healthcare is respected through the benefits provided, which cover annual expenses for outpatient care and an unlimited allocation for inpatient treatment.
  • FGV provides subsidies for the workers’ electricity and water bills.
  • A grievance mechanism is accessible to all of FGV’s workers, both local and migrant, where any complaint or grievance that is submitted, will be looked into and addressed without fear or favour. Where confidentiality is a concern, FGV’s whistle-blowing channels can be utilised.
  • The firm is currently implementing a long-term and comprehensive action plan under its affiliation to the Fair Labor Association that comprises a number of initiatives to further strengthen various aspects of its labour practices such as the recruitment process, human rights training programmes, working and living conditions, as well as grievance mechanisms, among others.

The firm stressed that it does not tolerate any form of human rights infringements or criminal offence in its operations. "Any case of such nature will be acted upon by FGV including by reporting them to the relevant authorities."

Read the full statement here

Photo / 123RF

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