Tuesday 28 May 2024
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KUALA LUMPUR (May 15): Plantation Industries and Commodities Minister Datuk Zuraida Kamaruddin is confident that a resolution is within reach in the near term on the issue of forced labour that has resulted in Malaysian palm oil and other products being banned from entering the US market.

In a statement issued here on Sunday, Zuraida welcomed the decision by the US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to set up a working committee with the Malaysian government to address the issue.

"This is a move in the right direction to resolve this long outstanding issue that has unfairly plagued local industries, in particular palm oil and rubber," she said.

Human Resources Minister Datuk Seri M Saravanan secured the commitment from the CBP to set up a working committee during his current trip to the US.

Zuraida said her ministry will be following this up closer with the relevant US authorities to urgently resolve the problem.

"I have several key meetings lined up and I am confident an amicable resolution is within reach in the near term," she said.

The minister reiterated that most of the claims of forced labour made by non-governmental organisations and other interest groups were not verified by the US authorities.

"This is grossly unfair to our local industry," she said.

Zuraida said Malaysia has taken various initiatives to monitor and prevent forced labour, including through the ratification of the International Labour Organization (ILO) Fundamental Convention no. 29 (Forced Labour) and Convention no.182 (Worst Forms of Child Labour).

"In addition, Malaysia has ratified Convention no.98 (Collective Bargaining), Convention no.100 (Equal Remuneration), Convention no.138 (Minimum Age) and Convention no.131 (Minimum Wage).

"These conventions provide useful guidance in determining Malaysia's obligations with respect to the protection of the rights of foreign workers," she added.

Zuraida said Malaysia is also embarking on the BRIDGE Project with ILO, aimed at supporting government efforts at combating forced labour under Protocol 29 (Supplementary Protocol to Convention 29) as a guidance on measures to eliminate all areas of forced labour (prevention, protection of victims and access to justice).

Edited ByS Kanagaraju
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