The video above is the story of Rakib from Bangladesh, who has been a migrant palm oil worker in Malaysia for the last two years.
Often migrant workers like Rakib do not understand their contracts, which are written in a different language. Workers also have their passports retained by their employers to prevent them being lost or the workers disappearing. But food manufacturer Fuji Oil have been working with us to try and change such practices. Last year, Rakib’s employer made a big change. They returned passports and gave translated individual contracts to all of their 200 foreign workers.
This was significant for Rakib. “When they gave me the contract form I knew about my rights,” he said. “When I got my passport back my happiness had no limit – because without a passport I feel like I’m illegal here.”
Since November 2016, we have been engaging with a mill in Peninsular Malaysia that supplies palm oil to Fuji Oil. This has led to change at the supplying mill, where values were already strong. With TFT and Fuji’s support, they have returned passports to all foreign workers, given them translated individual contracts and provided them with lockers to keep their documents. They now have a documented grievance process and a policy against exploitation.
With TFT’s help, they have explained to workers about their right to handle grievances through unions and the conditions of their contracts.The mill went a step further and checked with the Bangladeshi and Indonesian embassy to ensure that their workers’ contracts followed the embassy’s guidelines. They even got all contracts translated in Bahasa Malaysia, Bahasa Indonesia and Bengali.
Read more about palm oil workers’ rights: Wilmar installs 10,000 lockers for workers to keep their passports safe in.