1,200 foreign workers hired, thousands more to be added, says FGVH

By ALIFAH ZAINUDDIN / Pic By TMR

Felda Global Ventures Holdings Bhd (FGVH) continues to hire foreign workers to overcome shortages of labour at its plantations.

The world’s third-largest plantation group has taken its foreign worker headcount tally to 1,200 to date and is expected to satisfy its 8,000 quota over the next few months.

“We expect a few thousand more to come in over the next three to four months. I would say by end of the year, or way before that, we should be able to fulfil the 8,000 quota given to us — 5,000 workers from Bangladesh, 2,000 from Indonesia and 1,000 from India,” FGVH officer-in-charge Datuk Khairil Anuar Aziz told a media briefing in Kuala Lumpur last Wednesday.

Khairil said emphasis was given to workers from Bangladesh due to the greater interest expressed by the nation.

“Our priority is more on Bangaldeshi workers now. If I may say, other plantation companies are also focusing on them because there is a lot of interest from the people of Bangladesh to come and work in Malaysia,” he said.

Acting chairman Tan Sri Sulaiman Mahbob said in July the lack of manpower at the plantation firm’s estates had resulted in daily losses of RM2 million, totalling to RM600 million on average per annum.

The employment drive was also in line with the company’s ongoing replantation efforts to improve the age profile of its estates and increase yields.

Out of FGVH’s 450,000ha of land around Malaysia, 14,000ha have been earmarked for replantation.

Khairil said the effort is progressing well with nearly 2,000ha of area covered, with the remaining 12,522ha to be completed in the second-half of 2017.

On the company’s local recruitment drive, Khairil said about 300 people have expressed interest to work in the plantation sector, most of whom are dependents of Federal Land Development Authority (Felda) settlers.

“It is not that much, but we are looking to recruit local labour. We want to recruit as many as we can because we don’t want to be dependent on foreign workers but it is hard to get locals to be in the plantation sector,” he added.

Khairil said the company will strive to offer career development packages as well as benefits to boost the numbers.

When asked to comment on the result of the domestic inquiry into four of the company’s senior executives, Khairil said it is the prerogative of the board of directors.

Sulaiman previously said the results of the investigation would be announced by Aug 25, but reports suggest the instituted panel had sought for more time.

The internal probe involves FGVH president and CEO Datuk Zakaria Arshad, CFO Ahmad Tifli Mohd Talha, FGV Trading Sdn Bhd CEO Ahmad Salman Omar and Delima Oil Products Sdn Bhd senior GM Kamarzaman Abd Karim.

All four officials were instructed to go on leave pending an internal inquiry into dealings between FGVH’s Delima Oil Products and Dubai-based Safitex Trading LLC.

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