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Illegal labour & other abuses

Reports from the Departments of Community Developed and Labor in PNG reveal the appalling conditions for workers employed by Rimbunan Hijau.

According to the reports, Papua New Guinean workers are forced to endure low wages, "cheating and dishonesty" by the company, cramped and unhygienic living conditions, racial and sexual abuse and there is a complete disregard for their health and safety.

"The company's treatment of its citizen employees reflects labor exploitation and slavery and should be condemned at all levels", says the Department of Labor.

Both reports contain allegations that the Police Task Force is "there to protect the interests of the company and their supporters and not citizens of Papua New Guinea" and that the police are "bribed by RH".

The reports also record that in one logging operation alone there were over one hundred foreign workers and that the vast majority are there illegally, with no valid work permit or visa and most were employed in menial and semi skilled jobs that could easily be done by local workers.

The reports were written after inspections of RH company facilities and interviews with workers, company management and local people.

According to the Department of Community Development wages paid by Rimbunan Hijau are criminally low - just 63 toea an hour (that's about 15 US cents). And wages have not increased for more than ten years.

The reports allege that most of what is paid is then taken back by the company as they oblige their workers to buy all their food and other supplies in company canteens. Here it is claimed the prices are not displayed and the workers only find out how much they have been charged when they receive their wages with the money already deducted.

According to the Department of Labor, the prices charged are "exorbitantly high" and "this is absolutely cheating and dishonesty by the company".

Rimbunan Hijau is also accused of not providing leave fares for its workers from outside the Province and wages are "totally insufficient" for workers to pay their own travel expenses, so they spend their leave time trapped inside the camp unable to visit their homes and families.

Local people and workers families also claim they are prevented by the company from opening their own stores.

According to the official reports workers are also forced to endure very cramped and unhygienic accommodation. Two families are forced to share a four metre square room with only a curtain to separate them and a single switch for the one light and one fan. For single workers, they are forced to live seven to a room.

Conditions are "appalling, with overcrowding and are totally unsafe".

Papua New Guinean women allege that they are forced to have sex with the company bosses and overseas workers. Some Indonesian women are also brought in to the camps (illegally) as sex workers.

These workers are alleged to suffer appalling abuse as "Malaysians who have been involved are said to have put ball bearings into their private parts to boost their sexual desires, however, this has had very severe effects on the females they have sexual contact with".

The Department of Labor report alleges that Rimbunan Hijau uses large numbers of illegal foreign workers in its logging operations, has no interest in the training and development of local workers and implements no health and safety practices to protect its workers.

In just one logging operation Rimbunan Hijau was found to employ at least one hundred and ten foreign workers while there is just one Papua New Guinean in a management role.

According to the Department of Labor, only thirty one out of the one hundred and twelve non citizens identified were legally employed by the logging company. ONLY 31 out of 112. That is just 28%. EIGHTY ONE foreign workers in just one logging camp are there ILLEGALLY.

The Department of Labor report concludes, "the company has total disrespect for the Employment of Non Citizens Act" and the report identifies the "management's ignorance and disrespect for the law".

The Labor Department report is also very critical of Rimbunan Hijau's attitude towards staff training. "Training, training implementation and localization is non existent" says the report.

These are just a few quotes from the report on health and safety issues:

  • "The level of safety practices and implementation is appalling and cannot be measured against any standard"
  • "Safe working practices is non existent"

  • There is "absolutely no regard for safety and safe working practices" and

  • Working conditions are "very hazardous and appalling".

The report concludes "the behavior by the company is totally unacceptable and must be penalized".

Labour Report

Community Report

Inspection Report