New Straits Times (03/01/2021) - KUALA LUMPUR: Sime Darby Plantation Bhd (SDP) says the US Customs and Border Protection's (CBP) news release does not provide sufficient information to allow the company to meaningfully address the allegations that triggered the issuance of the Withhold Release Order (WRO).
SD Plantation said it was reviewing the news release in order to better understand the potential impact, if any, of the WRO.
"Nevertheless, we look forward to receiving pertinent information and working with CBP in order to address their concerns and quickly resolve this matter.
"We will also continue to engage with Liberty Shared (LS) and other organisations to obtain information regarding the initial complaint that would enable us to take any appropriate corrective actions as required," it said in a statement on Thursday.
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The CBP had earlier issued the WRO on SD Plantation's palm oil based on information "that reasonably indicates the presence of all 11 of the International Labour Organisation's forced labour indicators" in its production process.
This came a few months after the CBP had taken similar action on products by FGV Holdings Bhd on almost identical grounds.
SD Plantation said it was committed to combatting forced labour and had implemented robust policies to protect worker's rights.
The efforts included the appointment of PricewaterhouseCoopers Consulting Associates on October 19 last year to assist SD Plantation in its continuous improvement commitment.
"Our engagements with multiple stakeholders have commenced ever since SD Plantation became aware of the petition submitted by LS to the CBP back in July 2020, and have continued regularly with SD Plantation updating stakeholders on all measures taken internally to address any gaps and potential areas of concern as identified by our own internal audit processes," it said.
SDP added that it would always act in the best interest of its stakeholders, particularly employees, customers and shareholders.
"Thus, SD Plantation will continue to engage with the CBP and all persons involved in this matter. The allegations made suggest a breach in the implementation of SDP's own strict policies. It would be in the interest of all parties, especially our foreign workforce and women employees, if these matters are addressed expeditiously.
"We hope to be able to enjoy the full support and cooperation of our NGO (non-governmental organisation) partners and the CBP to ensure that these vulnerable groups are protected," it said.
Read more at https://www.nst.com.my/business/2021/01/654091/us-customs-statement-provides-insufficient-info-sd-plantation