Malaysia is the second largest palm oil producer in the world and its garment sector, although smaller, accounts for 2% of global apparel exports. In both sectors workers are at risk of being exploited, particularly if they are foreign migrant workers, which account for 40% of Malaysia’s workforce.
Major risks for migrant workers include sub-standard working and housing conditions, lack of union representation and withholding of identification documents. In the case of child labour, risks stem from the presence of undocumented children, children living with parents in the plantation, as well as economic hardship and school disruptions, which have been intensified by the Covid pandemic.
MY Voice works in the areas of Sabah and Peninsular Malaysia to address forced labour and child labour by increasing:
- Advocacy by workers and civil society
- Worker voice in the implementation of a social compliance system
- Access to remedies for exploited workers
The main grant recipient, Social Accountability International (SAI), is a global non-governmental organisation advancing human rights at work – with a vision that socially responsible workplaces benefit business while securing fundamental human rights.
In its first year, MY Voice has conducted landscape analyses and stakeholder engagement, consulting with civil society, government agencies and the private sector. The next steps in the project, which runs until May 2026, will be working with companies to strengthen worker voice in social compliance systems, developing resources and tools, conducting training and capacity building for civil society, trade unions and workers, and to further understand and enhance remediation processes.
Proforest’s work is being led by the Proforest Southeast Asia team, who have extensive experience in palm oil in Malaysia, and will further enhance our global work on labour and human rights, especially relating to grievance processes and remediation.
Other sub-grantees include The Centre for Child Rights & Business, who work with companies to promote and respect children’s rights in all their operations, and Our Journey, a registered civil society organisation based in Kuala Lumpur providing legal representation for migrants.