The  Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) has launched a first-ever guidance document on a decent living wage for the oil palm industry to ensure that workers and their families earn a sufficient wage for housing, medical, clean water, basic amenities and more.

The document, prepared in collaboration with the Labour Task Force (LTF), sets the decent living wage (DLW) for all workers in RSPO-certified units, the multi-stakeholder organization said in a press release here on Wednesday.

“RSPO members have taken a bold step and now require producers of oil palm to provide a decent living wage. I hope the positive impact will be felt across the whole industry, and not just limited to workers on the ground. This responsibility does not rest solely with the producers, support from the entire membership is vital to ensure that workers and their families have the right to a decent standard of living,” RSPO Human Rights and Social Standards Manager, Kamini Visvananthan was quoted as saying in the press release.

The guide will assist members to assess whether the remuneration provided to their workers is sufficient for the worker and his/her family to afford a basic but decent lifestyle, which takes into account the family’s needs such as decent housing, sanitation facilities, adequate clean water supply, medical care, as well as educational needs for the children in the family, the press release said.

It added that the guidance document was an important element of the recently adopted 2018 RSPO Principles and Criteria. It explains how to determine the DLW benchmark, calculate DLW, calculate prevailing wages and the living wage gap, as well as ways to develop a self-implementation plan for RSPO grower members to move towards payment of the DLW.

“This guidance is not the end but just the beginning of this journey, and we will continue to work together with growers, the RSPO Secretariat, and other stakeholders to ensure this concept is understood by all and is implementable,” Lee Kuan Yee, Senior Sustainability Manager at Kuala Lumpur Kepong Berhad (KLK) and RSPO Board of Governors member was quoted in the release as saying.

Lee said that as the concept is relatively new in the industry, the RSPO Secretariat organized a few workshops and sessions together with growers and other stakeholders to fine tune this guidance and include a step-wise implementation for the growers to progressively work towards the implementation of a DLW.

To assist members in calculating the DLW, benchmark estimates for several regions within four countries; Ghana, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Colombia are provided in the guidance for reference, but the RSPO plans to provide benchmarks for the countries where its members are involved in the production of palm oil.

The development of this guidance document started in January 2019, with the target for completion by RSPO’s co-hosted event, the Sustainable Palm Oil Dialogue – Europe, with partners the Sustainable Trade Initiative  (IDH) and the European Palm Oil Alliance (EPOA), in Utrecht, Netherlands, on Friday 14 June, 2019. The event focuses on how Europe will meet its target to source 100% sustainable palm oil by 2020. While many are making good progress in their sustainable sourcing commitments, more work needs to be done, and with urgency, to close the gap and completely transform the market. Driving market uptake and demand for sustainable palm oil is a shared responsibility, the action is required from all industry players.

The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) is a non-profit, international, membership organisation that unites stakeholders from the different sectors of the palm oil industry including oil palm producers, palm oil processors or traders, consumer goods manufacturers, retailers, banks and investors, environmental or nature conservation NGOs, and social or developmental NGOs.

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