An Amnesty International report alleges that children as young as eight are working in "hazardous" conditions in Indonesia to produce palm oil found in popular household products. Unilever, Colgate-Palmolive, Kellogg's and Nestle are among those linked to Singapore-based company Wilmar, the human rights group says.
Amnesty senior investigator Meghna Abraham said. "Something is wrong when nine companies turning over a combined revenue of $325bn [£260bn] in 2015 are unable to do something about the atrocious treatment of palm oil workers."
Amnesty's business and human rights programme director, Peter Frankental, "Using mealy-mouthed excuses about 'traceability' is a total cop-out from these companies. You can be sure that if one these companies' products were contaminated and had to be taken off the shelves of supermarkets, they would ensure that they could trace the source to specific plantations."
Amnesty researchers investigated the working conditions at plantations in the Indonesian regions of Kalimantan and Sumatra. It found that the palm oil produced at the sites for the company Wilmar had been sold on to manufacturers that produce items ranging from toothpaste and cosmetics to ice-cream. The report details children aged between eight and 14 carrying out physical labour on plantations in Indonesia without safety equipment in areas exposed to pesticides. Some of the children had dropped out of school to work with parents, while others worked in the afternoons, at weekends and during holidays, Amnesty said. It found that some plantation workers were earning as little as $2.50 a day.