Malaysia's palm oil industry has well-documented, severe problems with the abuse of migrant workers, including widespread forced labor and human trafficking. Over 80 per cent of the workers at palm oil plantations are migrant workers from countries such as Indonesia, Bangladesh and Nepal. In 2014, the U.S. State Department's Annual Trafficking in Persons report gave Malaysia the lowest possible rating, meaning the Malaysian government "does not fully comply with the minimum standards (to end human trafficking) and is not making significant efforts to do so." Despite the State Department's recent controversial decision to upgrade Malaysia to the Tier 2 Watch List, there is wide agreement among trafficking experts that abuses continue unabated and the government has failed to take meaningful steps towards addressing its severe trafficking problem. In 2014, Finnwatch released a report finding serious labor rights violations in RSPO certified estates in Malaysia. According to the report, a major Malaysian palm oil company IOI Group paid wages lower than the statutory minimum wage, confiscated its worker' passports and restricted freedom of association. A large part of IOI Group's plantation workers had no understanding of their employment contract, which was written in a foreign language.
Read the Finnwatch report (in English)