KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 8 — The Malaysian Rubber Council (MRC) has collaborated with the International Labour Organisation (ILO) to launch a new employers’ guide to prevent and eliminate forced labour in the Malaysian rubber industry.
Titled “Addressing, Preventing and Eliminating Forced Labour in the Rubber Industry in Malaysia : A Practical Guide for Malaysian Employers”, the guide will assist employers, particularly those employing migrant workers, on how to identify risks of forced labour in recruitment, employment and sourcing practices, and how to effectively address, prevent and eliminate these risks.
Minister of Plantation Industries and Commodities (MPIC) Datuk Zuraida Kamaruddin said the guide would help to ensure the industry’s sustainability, while providing a guideline for plantation management and hiring foreign labourers, among others.
“This move is in line with Malaysia’s ratification of ILO’s Protocol 29 in March, so it is good that other industries are following up on it,” she told media after the launching ceremony today.
Zuraida said she had also requested the ILO to assist Malaysia in addressing allegations of forced labour.
“I have asked the ILO to assist us, as we are very much dependent on migrant workers since our population is very small and we have a lot of rubber trees, so we have to get a migrant workers to come to the country.
“As such, we need to see if there are any basis for the allegations,” she said.
Earlier in her speech, Zuraida wants the rubber association to develop a Malaysian Sustainable Palm Oil (MSPO) scheme-like certification for the members to combat forced labour in the industry and show that the country is taking the forced labour allegations seriously.
“This will show that we are serious, especially every commodity industry is serious because this is our income to the country; palm oil is number one and the rubber is number two. So, there is no way we will fool around with this issue (which could lead us) to be sanctioned, especially by the US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and also the European Union,” she said.
Meanwhile, in her welcoming remarks, MRC chairman Daroyah Alwi said the allegations of forced labour has placed Malaysia in a bad light, thus the council believes that it is necessary to intensify efforts to restore the industry’s and country’s reputation.
She said the government, together with the relevant agencies and companies, have taken steps to address the allegations of forced labour within the industry, as well as to mitigate the risk in the future.
She said the new employers guide emphasised MRC’s concerted efforts to support the MPIC’s strategic plan and the Ministry of Human Resources’ National Action Plan on Forced Labour 2021-2025, as well as Malaysia’s participation as an Alliance 8.7 Pathfinder country to accelerate efforts to end forced labour.
“I believe that companies and stakeholders within the rubber supply chain will be able to implement the key practices and recommendations to address, prevent and eliminate forced labour.
“I hope this mutual collaboration between the MRC and ILO will continue, not only on the framework but also in the implementation phase towards the total eradication of forced labour,” she said.
Among other things, the guide will help employers to understand what constitutes forced labour as well as the international standards, national laws and policies relating to it.
It also provides guidance on due diligence and responsible business conduct, good practices, frequently asked questions and answers on preventing forced labour as well as practical information on developing company policies. — Bernama