Petaling Jaya, 30 December 2021 - Happy days for 156 migrant workers who boarded MAS MH8780, an all-expense-paid chartered flight arranged by Sime Darby Plantation (SDP) to Kolkata, India. The workers, all of whom were employed by SDP at various estates across Malaysia, boarded the flight at the KLIA International Airport around 5.10 pm and are expected to arrive in Kolkata on 30 December 2021 at 6.40pm local time, in time for the New Year.
Since July 2020, Sime Darby Plantation (SDP) has been helping its migrant workers who faced travel restrictions and border closures amid the COVID-19 pandemic to return to their respective countries such as India, Indonesia, Nepal, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. Since 2020 a total of 5,138 migrant workers have been reunited with their families.
“Many of our workers have been waiting to get back to their families and we are pleased to be able to make this a reality,” said SDP's Group Managing Director, Mohamad Helmy Othman Basha “Due to the pandemic, the lockdowns and border closures, arranging for their passage home has been challenging but we will continue to do our very best to help reunite them with their families,” Mohamad Helmy said
To date, SDP has chartered six flights to India and Indonesia for its migrant workers, when commercial flights were unavailable. The Company has also assisted some of its workers from India via the "Vande Bharat Mission" project organised by the Indian High Commission with Air India Express and Oscar Holidays.
With reports of more rains in the next several days, SDP is monitoring the situation closely and is co-ordinating efforts to gather more information from communities in affected areas.
To repatriate its workers, SDP worked with local and international agencies, including the Malaysian Immigration Department, various embassies, and KLIA authorities. SDP had also taken all necessary precautions and adhered to guidelines set by the Ministry of Health, Malaysia (MOH) and the World Health Organisation (WHO) at all times. All foreign workers underwent the compulsory COVID-19 tests, and the authorities were notified of the results within 24 hours before departure.
The Company has also complied with additional safety and health requirements for incoming passengers imposed by several countries. This included arranging connecting domestic flights from the point of arrival and providing fully paid hotel vouchers and accommodation for mandatory periods of quarantine. SDP also arranged to have its Indian workers fully vaccinated to fulfil their home country's requirements before flying back.
In addition to free passage to and from their countries of origin, SDP provides all workers with equal benefits such as free housing in comfortable and fully furnished premises, subsidised utilities, free medical facilities, and paid overtime and annual leave. SDP has also empowered its workers, ensuring they are able to engage in proactive dialogue with estate management, to care for their needs.