Children in the Plantations of Sabah

At least 60,000 Indonesian children and an unknown number of Filipino children live around oil palm plantations across Sabah, Malaysia (UNICEF 2015). Many live in relative poverty and are potentially undocumented, with no access to formal education. These factors, coupled with the remoteness of plantations, mean that children end up working – either directly or assisting their parents in plantations.

While these issues are structural and require policy intervention, we believe that the business community has a role to play. With this belief, TFT organised a stakeholder consultation on Sep. 5, 2017 in Sandakan, Sabah together with our members – Nestlé, Archer Daniels Midland (ADM) and Wilmar.

The consultation’s main objective was to hear from businesses about the reality of children and young persons working in plantations, and discuss possible ways to address the issue. About 50 participants from small, medium and large palm oil businesses attended, most of whom operate in the east coast of Sabah.

The results of the consultation are published in this report:

Children in the Plantations of Sabah: Stakeholder Consultation Workshop Report

Summary of the key findings from consultation (Children in Plantations info-sheet)

The report captures the issues around children in plantations and challenges for companies in addressing it. The publication of this report aims to support industry-wide efforts in forming solutions to better strengthen the protection of children in the plantation sector.

TFT and its partners are implementing key recommendations from last year’s consultation in Sabah. Moving forward, we are formulating a broader strategy for businesses and other stakeholders to address the issue of child labour and working children in Malaysian palm oil supply chains.

We strongly encourage further input and suggestions, and welcome any calls for collaboration from civil society, government and businesses. Please do not hesitate to contact our Respect team, which aims to protect the rights of workers and communities in global supply chains.

Respect (Malaysia)

Natasha Mahendran: +6 03 2201 2393;

Respect (global)

Katie Kenrick: +44 023 8011 1220;