Forced labor, as defined by the International Labor Organization, refers to situations in which persons are coerced to work through the use of violence or intimidation, or by more subtle means such as accumulated debt (aka, “debt bondage”), retention of identity papers or threats of denunciation to immigration authorities.
Child labor occurs on palm plantations when children are used by parents to assist in meeting aggressive daily quotas. Children of plantation workers will also gravitate to this type of work if they are non-citizens and unable to attend school. Plantation work is dangerous and detrimental to the health and proper development of children. They are exposed to pesticides that are illegal in other parts of the world and don’t have access to personal protective equipment to minimize exposure. Asia and Asia Pacific are responsible for 41% of the global estimate of child labor with the majority of child laborers (38%) being made up of 5 to 11 year olds (ILO, Global Estimates of Modern Slavery, 2016).
Amnesty International. The Great Palm Oil Scandal: Labour Abuses Behind Big Brand Names-Executive Summary. 2016.
Kamel, F. (16 Aug 2013). Paths from Pesticides to Parkinson’s. Science 341(6147), pp. 722-723. DOI: 10.1126/science.1243619
US State Department, TIP 2017 Report, Indonesia, pp. 208-211
US State Department, TIP 2017 Report, Malaysia, pp. 264-267
Varatiala, S., Ristimaki, S. The Law of the Jungle: Corporate Responsibility of Finnish Palm Oil Purchases. 2014.