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FNV Demands Dutch Government Action on Musim Mas

Posted to the IUF website 19-May-2006

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The Dutch national trade union center FNV has publicly called on the government of the Netherlands to take concrete action in response to massive violations of worker rights by the Indonesian Musim Mas palm oil company. Intervening in the context of an official Dutch trade mission to Indonesia planned for May 29-31, FNV President Agnes Jongerius has written an open letter (published on the FNV site, in Dutch) to the Economic and Foreign Affairs Ministers, calling on the trade mission to use the visit to "hold the Indonesian government to account for the serious violations of trade union and human rights in the palm oil sector" and Musim Mas in particular.

The FNV also calls on the government to reexamine its "WSSD (World Summit on Sustainable Development) public-private partnership" with Indonesia on sustainability in the palm oil sector. Under this program, the government is financing a "satellite" office of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) in Jakarta. Through the WSSD arrangement, the government also helps finance the palm oil activities of the WWF, one of the prominent NGOs in the RSPO. The WWF has remained consistently silent on the Musim Mas case, arguing that the RSPO has no mechanisms for taking action of any sort regarding its members.

The FNV, noting the incompatibility of these activities with the stated goals of the "partnership", writes that "Without respect for trade union and human rights, it is impossible for the Netherlands to remain involved in the WSSD partnership with the Indonesian government in the palm oil sector." The government, says the FNV, should review its "partnership" with Indonesia in the sector and stop supporting the RSPO if it does not take action to discipline Musim Mas. In the letter, the FNV calls on Dutch enterprises purchasing Indonesian palm oil, and Unilever in particular, to strictly observe OECD guidelines for corporate conduct. The FNV has asked the Dutch Labour Party to obtain information through parliament on the "private" aspect of the WSSD partnership, details of which have not been made available.