Global consumer companies, including Unilever, Nestle, Kellogg and Procter & Gamble, have sourced palm oil from Indonesian plantations where labor abuses were uncovered, Amnesty International said on Wednesday.
Children as young as eight worked in "hazardous" conditions at palm plantations run by Singapore-based Wilmar International and its suppliers on the Indonesian islands of Kalimantan and Sumatra, Amnesty said in a report.
Amnesty, which said it interviewed 120 workers, alleges that many of them worked long hours for low pay and without adequate safety equipment. The palm oil from these plantations could be traced to nine multinational companies, it said.
"Despite promising customers that there will be no exploitation in their palm oil supply chains, big brands continue to profit from appalling abuses," said Meghna Abraham, senior investigator at Amnesty.
The NGO said it chose Wilmar as the focus of its investigation as the company is the world's largest processor and merchandiser of palm and lauric oils, controlling more than 43 percent of the global palm oil trade.
Even though Indonesia had strong labor laws under which most of the abuses can amount to criminal offences, these laws were poorly enforced by the government, Amnesty said.