Photograph by Kemal Jufri for Bloomberg Businessweek

Palm Oil Plantation Workers Face Bitter Conditions

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    Oil palm fruits on the ground at PT 198, a plantation near Berau, Indonesia, on the island of Borneo.

    Photograph by Kemal Jufri for Bloomberg Businessweek
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    A farmworker in Berau loads oil palm bunches onto a truck.

    Photograph by Kemal Jufri for Bloomberg Businessweek
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    PT 198 plantation workers in front of a new barracks. Although many workers have been relocated to it, others are still housed in the old barracks.

    Photograph by Kemal Jufri for Bloomberg Businessweek
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    “Adam,” who fled the PT 198 plantation in 2010, now works as a hospital security guard.

    Photograph by Kemal Jufri for Bloomberg Businessweek
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    Workers at PT 198 in Berau outside their residential barracks. They must walk 2 kilometers for clean running water.

    Photograph by Kemal Jufri for Bloomberg Businessweek
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    Tuho, a former PT 198 plantation worker originally from the island of Nias—who fled with his cousin “Adam” in 2010—cooks his dinner using palm oil at a house he rents together with four other people in Berau. He now works as a debt collector at a credit union company.

    Photograph by Kemal Jufri for Bloomberg Businessweek
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    Plantation workers at their barracks. The workers from Nias including “Adam” and Tuho used to stay in the same barracks before they ran away in 2010.

    Photograph by Kemal Jufri for Bloomberg Businessweek
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    Workers bathe and wash their clothes using dirty water from a stagnant ditch that runs alongside their barracks.

    Photograph by Kemal Jufri for Bloomberg Businessweek
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    Plantation workers collect drinking water from a spring—the nearest source of clean water is a few kilometers away.

    Photograph by Kemal Jufri for Bloomberg Businessweek
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    Workers wait for their turn to take a bath at a spring.

    Photograph by Kemal Jufri for Bloomberg Businessweek
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    Among the estimated 3.7 million workers in the palm oil industry are thousands of child laborers and workers who face dangerous and abusive conditions. Debt bondage is common, and traffickers who prey on victims face few, if any, sanctions from business or government officials.

    Photograph by Kemal Jufri for Bloomberg Businessweek