The World Health Organization declared the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), first reported in Wuhan, China, in December 2019, a global pandemic on March 11, 2020. The impact of the pandemic is unprecedented in modern history. Nations, businesses, and communities face public health, medical, economic, and political considerations as they end the spread of the virus. One essential consideration is the protection of factory and farm workers.
The Fair Labor Association is one of two dozen organizations jointly calling on the government of Indonesia to ensure that current labor laws remain consistent with international standards as national legislators consider the Omnibus Law on Job Creation.
Signatories – which include brands, civil society organizations, and business organizations – expressed concern in the letter with the Labor Cluster of the proposed omnibus bill, which was submitted by the Widodo Government to the People’s Representative Council.
The Fair Labor Association (FLA) board of directors approved the application of FGV Holdings Berhad (FGV) to become a Participating Company in the FLA in October 2019. The FLA affiliation illustrated interest by FGV, a major industry supplier of palm oil and palm kernel oil, to address systemic labor issues in its palm oil supply chain.
A grievance guidance series, commissioned by Cargill and developed by Proforest, was created to provide practical and action-oriented information on how to verify grievances, identify root causes, develop action plans to address them, and minimize risk of future grievances in the palm oil sector.
In July 2020, the Institute for Multi-Stakeholder Initiative Integrity (MSI Integrity) published a report analyzing 40 international standard-setting MSIs. The report questions whether these organizations have “delivered on their promise to protect human rights.” While the report addresses important questions about how MSIs currently function, it starts from a faulty premise, namely that MSIs are a permanent substitute for government oversight and regulation.
The COVID-19 outbreak in Malaysia led to a government-imposed Movement Control Order across the country. While many businesses were not permitted to operate during the first phase of the order, palm operations were exempted and allowed to operate under government-issued procedures.
The Fair Labor Association created guidance to help factories mitigate the risks associated with COVID-19 and ensure the safety of workers. The document offers guidelines on how to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus in factories and dormitories through rigorous infectious disease management and the preparations required ahead of the reoccupation of buildings and production facilities after lockdown.
The FLA joined with five partner organizations to engage the government of India and call attention to state-level actions, which could “seriously jeopardize the safety, security, and well-being of workers in India.
The concerns involve COVID-related amendments that relax labor laws or regulations via state executive order or imprecise suspensions in light of the global pandemic’s economic impact.
The Fair Labor Association (FLA) expects its affiliates to account for the impact of business decisions on workers in their global supply chains. The FLA recognizes that during the COVID-19 pandemic, companies of all sizes face challenges and difficult choices that will affect many – including the most vulnerable workers.
Among the roughly 152 million child laborers globally, 108 million work in agriculture. The Fair Labor Association (FLA) anticipates that the COVID-19 pandemic will make their precarious situation worse, with both short and long-term negative impacts. Some of the expected impacts include: