In December 2021, SAI launched a new program to address forced labor and child labor in the production of garments and palm oil in Malaysia. The project—MY Voice—builds on SAI’s experience implementing social compliance systems in supply chains and facilitating worker and community engagement and learning. It also integrates expertise from several partner organizations: Proforest, The Centre for Child Rights and Business, and Our Journey. This article was originally published on SAI’s website and featured in the SAI newsletter.
MY Voice seeks to increase worker voice in social compliance systems, increase access to remedy for forced labor and child labor, and help improve communication and coordination between local actors to better identify, remediate, and prevent cases of forced and child labor.
The objectives for this project are:
- Increase advocacy by workers and civil society to address forced labor and/or child labor
- Increase worker voice in the implementation of a social compliance system
- Increase access to remedies for workers exploited for forced labor and/or child labor
Malaysia’s government has made a commitment to addressing these challenges with recent actions. In 2021, Malaysia launched a National Action Plan on Forced Labor which, “focuses on awareness, enforcement, labor migration as well as access to remedy and support services with the aim to eliminate forced labor in Malaysia by 2030.” On March 21, 2022, Malaysia became the second ASEAN country to ratify the Protocol of 2014 to the ILO Forced Labor Convention.
MY Voice seeks to support and further these efforts by strengthening local systems that can help workers and business thrive together in the garment and palm oil industries. This includes private sector social compliance systems, independent forced labor and child labor remediation systems, and multi-stakeholder platforms that help ensure broad alignment on core principles and practices.
Malaysia’s economy relies heavily on foreign migrant workers, who make up as much as 40% of the country’s labor force. These workers are especially vulnerable and are a major focus of the MY Voice program. Central to this, we seek to elevate and amplify the voices of workers and civil society in the systems that protect them and to strengthen those systems, so they can effectively remediate complaints and address root causes for both domestic and foreign workers.
How to Get Involved
MY Voice is currently in the early stages of stakeholder engagement and we are actively seeking input for our project strategy and design from a wide range of stakeholders in the target industries in Malaysia. These include:
- Public sector—government agencies in Malaysia working on issues of labor, trade, commerce, immigration, and other related topics;
- Private sector—garment and palm oil employers in Malaysia, international companies that buy garments and palm oil from Malaysia, and recruiters working in Malaysia and in migrant worker countries of origin;
- Civil society—civil society leaders in Malaysia and in migrant worker communities of origin, union leaders, informal migrant community leaders, and workers themselves.
If you represent an organization or individuals associated with the garment or palm oil industries in Malaysia, we want to hear from you. Please reach out to email@example.com.
You may also contact this address for general inquiries.
Proforest is a mission-driven, non-profit group that supports companies, governments, civil society and other organizations to work towards the responsible production and sourcing of agricultural and forest commodities. Proforest has 20 years of experience implementing responsible sourcing program, focusing on policy development, risk analysis across complex supply bases, supply chain mapping, site-level assessments, and ongoing supplier engagement to build policy compliance.
The Centre for Child Rights and Business (The Centre) works with companies to promote and respect children’s rights in all their operations, with a particular focus on supply chains. The Centre helps businesses understand how and where they impact children, and deliver practical solutions and services for mitigating risks and creating positive change.
Our Journey is a registered civil society organization based in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia providing legal representation for migrants in labor, immigration and criminal cases. Our Journey’s vision is to inspire a supportive migration system, void of discrimination, for non-citizens and their families to build new lives and to be recognized for their contribution to development.
Funding is provided by the United States Department of Labor under cooperative agreement number IL-37321-21-75-K.100% of the total costs of the project is financed with USG federal funds, for a total of $5,000,000 dollars. This material does not necessarily reflect the views or policies of the United States Department of Labor, nor does mention of trade names, commercial products, or organizations imply endorsement by the United States Government.