MONROVIA-A high powerful Liberian delegation under the Umbrella of the Agricultural Agro-Processing and Industrial Workers Union of Liberia is expected to participate in an international Roundtable on sustainable palm oil (RSPO) 2023 conference.
The Delegation to be led by AAIWUL’s President Abraham Nimene will represent the interest of workers in the sector, especially providing the current perspective of ongoing activities within the sector.
According to Mr. Nimene, the international conference is timely, especially coming at a time there is a plan discussion with workers of Golden Veroleum Liberia through its direct representation, AAIWUL on one hand and senior management of the oil palm company, on the other hand, relative to concluding the 2023 to 2025 collective bargaining agreement.
The Agreement among other things calls for a decent work environment, attractive salaries as well as safety concerns for the workers among others.
Nimene who pledged his organization’s commitment to remain engaged at all times with employers also challenge workers to be professional and productive on the job for the benefit of all.
“The first ever RSPO conference to North America is rapidly becoming one of the most influential regions for sustainable palm oil uptake and RSPO membership”, said Cameron, please.
The conference with a focus on “From emerging to thriving, the role of the Americas as leaders for sustainable palm oil will also look at the plights of workers and the maintaining of international standards within the sector.
The AAIWUL head said as part of his participation, he will highlight the plights and activities of workers within the sector as well as standard issues.
The issue of networking with companies and partnerships including accelerating smallholder inclusion, exploring connecting markets through segregated / identity-preserved sourcing, and many more will also be at the center stage of discussion at the conference.
RSPO is a regulatory body set up to among other things set up standards within the sector and its opinion and policy to set a benchmark to enable community engagement and cooperation as a result of using the community forest.
It can be recalled on the 13th of February FPP joined local communities and partners in Liberia and welcomed the decision of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) Complaints Panel’s (CP’s) on Golden Veroleum Liberia (GVL).
The recent decision followed an independent review of GVL’s implementation of previous CP decisions that involved a number of complaints filed since 2012.
Among other things, the new decision highlights GVL’s alleged and overwhelming failure to comply with Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) standards contained in the RSPO’s Principles and Criteria which act as the industry’s voluntary standards to ensure fundamental human rights are protected in the sector.
Critically, the new decision finds that GVL has not allowed local communities to freely identify their community representation; used promises of jobs and benefits to secure land agreements; signed agreements without ensuring local communities had access to independent legal advice; used methods that were coercive in reaching those agreements, failed to carry out participatory mapping, and continued to construct on sacred land after being made aware and before and resolution was secured.
The ruling finally confirms what Liberia civil society and local communities have argued for six years, that GVL has always and continues to fail to meet key FPIC standards and as a result is illegally securing lands to operate in clear violation of international human rights law.
“For the fourth poorest country in the world, whose population continues to rely upon smallholder farming, this violation of customary rights continues to risk the land and food security of vulnerable populations in GVL’s area of operation and stands in stark contrast to their claims of providing much-needed development to the area”, the investigation report added.
The report also saw Liberian civil society releasing an official statement to welcome the report and the decision but also committing to ensuring that it is fully implemented for the benefit of local communities in the GVL area of operation and for the sustainable future of the oil palm sector’s engagement in Liberia more generally.
Although there has been no official statement from GVL at this stage FPP, along with partners in Liberia, look forward to their full acceptance of the decision and their commitment to fully implementing it urgently.
Meanwhile, the conference will take place in Miami, Florida, the United States of America.