Liberia: EPO provides update on its Human Rights Impact Assessment process

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Article
17 August 2018

Equatorial Palm Oil Update on its Human Rights Impact Assessment Process

Author: Equatorial Palm Oil plc

Actions Taken to Address its Salient Human Rights Issues

On 7 November 2017, EPO [Equatorial Palm Oil] released the Executive Summary of its Human Rights Impact Assessment ("HRIA")...

EPO now reports on the on-going steps taken to address its salient human rights issues as follows:

· Contractor wages and employment status: EPO has established new criteria based on productivity to evaluate when a contract worker can be converted to an employee... At a minimum, contractors are asked to ensure that they pay their workers the amount contained in the Decent Work Act (Liberia) and this is being monitored on a monthly basis by EPO to ensure its head contractors pay to its contractors the appropriate amount...

· Accidents on the estates due to chemical usage: EPO has strengthened its procedures to ensure that workers are aware of why the Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is so critical to their health...

· Impact of use of land on communities: ... A new committee has been created..., which brings together community representatives and EPO, as well as governmental stakeholders, to discuss the implementation of free, prior and informed consent ("FPIC")...

· Exercising the right to freedom of association: ...The Company is in the process of negotiating the renewal of the collective bargaining agreements with trade unions...

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Article
11 November 2017

Liberia: EPO releases executive summary of the findings of the company's Human Rights Impact Assessment

Author: Anna Triponel, Triponel Consulting Ltd. (New York) on behalf of EPO

This is the executive summary of a report titled “Assessing Human Rights Impacts at EPO’s Liberian Operations” delivered by Triponel Consulting Ltd to Equatorial Palm Oil plc on July 26, 2017...Recently, the Company has received scrutiny from nonprofit research and policy organisation, Nomogaia. In particular, Nomogaia highlighted a range of issues at the Company’s Palm Bay estate, including issues related to just remuneration, safe working conditions and the right to collective bargaining...The resulting report captures the key findings from this HRIA work. [Below are some of the high priority impacts presented]: 

  1. Contractor wages and employment status: The number of contractors at Palm Bay and Butaw is high, with the April 2017 figures providing an estimate of 46.5% of contractors (577 contractors to 664 employees). There is a disparity in remuneration and benefits between contractor workers and employees...
  2. Accidents on the estates due to holes on the ground: Workers at both Palm Bay and Butaw reported a number of accidents on the estates due to falling in holes while conducting their daily duties...
  3. Accidents on the estates due to chemical usage: Several employees reported that personal protective equipment (“PPE”) is not systematically worn. Contractors remarked that, with the exception of spraying, it is up to the contractor firms to purchase and provide PPE to their workers...
  4. Impact of use of land on communities: The Company has a range of strong policies and processes in place to seek FPIC for its land development work and has placed a strong emphasis on its work with communities 
  5. Employee housing conditions:...Issues of privacy were raised by trade union leaders and workers... 

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