HUTAN MELINTANG – As a teenager of barely 13, P. Vannijaya started working as a grass-cutter at the Jenderata Estate of United Plantations Bhd here more than 40 years ago.
Over the next four decades, she would take up numerous other positions before retiring as a mandur.
“I would have continued working if not for my ill health. I have diabetes and suffered a mild stroke last year.
“It’s been 14 months since (I retired) and I miss working on the estate with my co-workers.
“They and the company are like family to me,” said the 58-year-old widow whose late husband also worked at the company.
Like Vannijaya, most employees of United Plantations work for the company all their lives.
“The company looks after the workers’ welfare.
“Our late boss Tan Sri B. Bek-Nielsen and now, his two sons, make sure we are happy in our jobs, have a roof over our heads and that our children go to school, for which I am extremely grateful,” she said.
Just as thankful is K. Ramankanan, 69, who retired two years ago after 46 years’ service.
“I have encouraged my son to join United Plantations as well,” said Ramankanan, who, along with Vannijaya, was among 41 long-serving retired and retiring workers who received a total of RM303,000 from the UP Benevolent Fund on Friday.
Ramankanan, who received a cheque for RM8,500 and also an appreciation certificate, said the money given to them was proof of the company’s concern of their post-retirement welfare.
In his speech, company vice-chairman and chief executive director Datuk Carl Bek-Nielsen said the fund was started by his late father in 1985 and other Danish shareholders. Funded by bonus shares capitalised from reserves, it is to reward the long and loyal service of the company’s workers.
“Since 1986, the company has paid out more than RM15.16mil in retirement benefits, scholarships and other charitable contributions – a feat I dare state is unmatched by any other plantation company in Malaysia today,” he said.
In addition to that, Bek-Nielsen added that RM429,306 was given out as subsidy for the transportation of workers’ children from the company’s estates to schools in 2014 and last year.
“In every successful organisation, workers represent the organisation’s biggest asset.
“How correct as no one at the top is stronger than the pyramid of people who supports him or her. We know this,” he added, thanking those present for their loyal and devoted service. – The Star Online