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Strengthen the Voice of Palm Oil Workers within the RSPO Sustainability Standard

As members of the palm oil standard, CNV Internationaal and its partner unions want to discuss ways to improve the RSPO sustainability standard. They would like to see improvements in the labour conditions for the workers in this sector. Union members share what commonly happens on the plantations, which are often found in very remote areas. We are seeing some improvement, but we’re still a long way from solving all the problems. Some of the issues we’re still facing include the lack of freedom to form unions, working conditions for women are still worse than those for men, and overall, most workers do not earn a living wage.

Together with union organisations in production locations like Indonesia and Latin America, we want to ensure that these millions of workers in the palm oil sector are represented in RSPO. This will increase sustainability with regard to labour rights.

We seldom see unions at the RSPO table. Therefore, CNV Internationaal has been supporting partner union HUKATAN, who has been a member of the palm oil standard since 2019. We are seeing some improvements, but there is still a long way to go.

We are seeing some improvement, but we’re still a long way from solving all the problems.

Membership is not a momentary snapshot

An RSPO certification must guarantee that the production of a palm oil product has met specific sustainability criteria regarding social and environmental factors. This means that the palm oil companies who are members are obligated to investigate and eliminate any areas where mistakes occur. This is a process which doesn’t happen in a single moment. Just being a member isn’t enough. It is an ongoing process.

It means members are obligated to investigate, eliminate
and prevent abuse

RSPO, the Round Table for Sustainable Palm Oil, is the largest cooperative organisation of entities that have an interest in the palm oil sector, like producers, processing companies, and social organisations. The World Wildlife Federation and Oxfam are two examples of social organisations who are members. Some major Dutch company members include Rabobank, ABN AMRO, and Friesland Campina.





Promising practices

In an earlier cooperation, CNV Internationaal made a film showing how the Indonesian Hukatan union works with planation companies to create better working conditions. The film shows the negative aspects and circumstances, but also highlights positive examples in the daily practices on the plantations. It’s crucial that workers gain the right to form independent unions and that companies realise the importance of constructive social dialogu


Publication date 11 12 2020