21 August 2018

Human rights and labour issues workshops for oil palm producers in Guatemala


Human rights and labour issues workshops for oil palm producers in Guatemala

Ensuring the respect and protection of human rights (including, among others, labour rights, land rights and women’s rights) is a crucial part of responsible production, especially in lower income countries such as Guatemala, where poverty and low levels of law enforcement can exacerbate risks.

Proforest recently partnered with human rights specialists Ergon Associates to organize and deliver two workshops on how to prevent and mitigate human rights and labour issues in palm oil production for companies growing and processing oil palm fruits in Guatemala.

Proforest’s Latin American team ran the workshops for three producer companies operating in the departments of Izabal, Alta Verapaz, Peten. These companies make up the three largest oil palm producers in Guatemala.

Ergon Associates – an international consultancy organization supporting clients to implement commitments on human rights, labour standards and gender equality – brought their expertise on the topic of human rights and worked with Proforest to adapt it to the context of palm production in central America.

Over 40 staff participated in the full-day workshops, including members of the management team and heads of departments. This allowed for dynamic and focused capacity building where staff not only learned about key human rights and labour issues, but also worked towards developing action plans for identifying and addressing challenges.

This included defining actions for:

  • improving health and safety procedures for workers,
  • reviewing contracts and job profiles to ensure workers’ rights are respected,
  • improving communication with local communities, and
  • engaging with external third-party suppliers on social issues.

Each workshop was delivered alongside an additional day of capacity building on Integrated Water Resource Management, including governance and good practices, delivered by a partnership with WWF Guatemala

These workshops formed part of Proforest’s ongoing technical support to Cargill in implementing and delivering on their policies and commitments on sustainable palm oil, in this case through supplier engagement. It also contributes to Proforest’s wider mission to provide practical support to companies as they transition to better practices and to support them as they deliver their responsible sourcing commitments.