Benefits and facilitiesCreating a good standard of living and a strong sense of community on the plantations is critical to attracting and retaining employees. REA encourages employees to bring their families to live on the plantation as this improves morale and creates a more balanced community. REA is conscious that living in a remote location can be challenging and encourages all staff to leave the plantation on a regular basis by taking long weekends in addition to their annual leave allowance.
REA’s policy is to provide all permanent employees who wish to live on the plantation with housing for themselves and their families, which is particularly important given the remote location of the group’s estates. Good quality housing and community facilities for employees are a priority. There is an annual competition for the best house and best estate village to encourage respect for the environment, and the group provides each village emplacement with a medical clinic, church, mosque, sports facilities and a market.
With the support of the group’s community development department, an employee cooperative shop (“REA Mart”) was established on one of the group’s older estates. REA Mart supplies everyday groceries and household items for the benefit of employees living in estate housing. This initiative has proved popular and will be extended to other estates during 2019 and, in due course, should allow the cooperative shops to bulk purchase and thereby source products more competitively than has hitherto been the case.
In 2008, the group established a foundation to manage the network of schools across the estates. The foundation now manages 28 schools, including 13 pre-schools, 14 primary schools and one secondary school. There are approximately 700 pre-school children, 1,800 primary school children and 200 secondary school students enrolled in the group’s school system.
External healthcare provision is extremely limited in the remote locations of the group’s operations. The group, therefore, has established a network of 18 healthcare clinics to treat employees, their families and members of the local communities. There is a team of two doctors, 16 paramedics, 12 midwives, one permanent dentist and one pharmacist on site. Training in first aid and basic life support is provided throughout the group operations and an additional programme has been introduced to promote better health and to educate workers in the prevention of harm and disease. Monthly immunisation programmes are provided for families, including polio-immunisation in collaboration with external medical professionals as part of the Indonesian government programme. Blood and lung tests are conducted twice a year to check for chemical exposure in workers who come into regular contact with pesticides. If workers test positive for pesticide exposure, they are rotated out of spraying into other roles. Random drug testing is conducted throughout the year to prevent drug usage and addiction amongst employees.