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Round and Round the Roundtable: RSPO Washes its Hands of Corporate Brutality

Posted to the IUF website 21-Mar-2006

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The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil, the "multi-stakeholder" organization set up to put a green face on a destructive industry and provide a benign cover for World Bank lending in the sector, has again washed its hands of any responsibility for the conduct of its corporate members.

In November last year, the RSPO Executive Board discussed (briefly) the savage repression of trade union rights by Roundtable Board member Musim Mas at the company's Pelalawan plantation and refinery. Musim Mas executives presented a farcical and deliberately misleading PowerPoint presentation which effortlessly convinced the Board, including its NGO members, that nothing could or should be done - the company had acted correctly and within the law.

The IUF prepared a detailed refutation of the company's claims, showing that Musim Mas had systematically broken national and international law. Musim Mas had refused to recognize the union at Pelalawan, terminated the employment of 1,000 union members in an act of collective retaliation against the union, brutally expelled the workers and their families from their homes and engineered the entrapment of 6 union officers who were subsequently sentenced to prison for attempting to negotiate the implementation of legal minimum standards for plantation workers. (For a systematic refutation of the Musim Mas presentation in pdf format, in English, click here).

The documentation was sent to all RSPO board members, and to make sure they read it, the material was pressed into their hands when Malaysian and international trade unionists intervened at the RSPO Executive Board meeting in Kuala Lumpur on February 20 and again at an industry gathering at the same venue 2 days later.

The RSPO, however, has decided to whitewash the Musim Mas case and again issued a complete denial of responsibility. Their response is available here on the RSPO web site.

The IUF and BWI have responded to this new apology for corporate brutality, union busting and violence, in a message to the RSPO Board which concludes:

Musim Mas trampled rights and broke the law, and the IUF, BWI and KAHUTINDO are determined to fight for justice for these workers. As long as it refuses to take action within its own organization, the RSPO will remain the target of public action and protests

The text is available (in pdf format) in English here.

To send a message to the government of Indonesia demanding the immediate and unconditional release of the Musim Mas 6, click here.

Your message will be automatically copied to the union, to the company, and to the RSPO.