Sime Darby Plantation Bhd appears to have extended a rare invitation to Malaysians to fill various on-site oil palm plantation jobs including positions as harvesters across Malaysia amid a COVID-19-driven industry-wide labor shortage due to the freeze on the intake of foreign workers to curb the spread of the pandemic.
In a notice on its website, Sime Darby Plantation said the job vacancies include positions as harvesters, general workers besides oil palm processing facility employees.
"The locations (of the jobs) are at oil palm plantations owned by Sime Darby Plantation across Malaysia," Sime Darby Plantation said.
Sime Darby Plantation said its employment benefits include Employees Provident Fund (EPF) contributions for workers, telephone allowance and transportation for workers' children to school.
"A life with a happy community awaits you," Sime Darby Plantation said.
Within the Malaysian context, it is no secret that jobs described as dirty, dangerous and difficult (3D) including those in the construction and plantation sectors are deemed less popular among Malaysians.
As such, construction projects and oil palm plantations across the country have been heavily dependent on foreign workers to ensure continuity of operations.
The COVID-19 pandemic's emergence since early 2020 has been a game changer for these sectors due to the country's foreign worker hiring freeze to curb the spread of the pandemic.
According to plantation sector analysts, oil palm planters in Malaysia are heavily dependent on foreign workers, who make up about 70% of total workforce.
However, COVID-19 vaccination progress in the country has led to the anticipation of reopening of more economic sectors, hence "providing a glimmer of hope in easing the labor shortfall issue in Malaysia", Hong Leong Investment Bank Bhd analyst Chye Wen Fei wrote in a note yesterday (Sept 7).
CGS-CIMB Securities Sdn Bhd analysts Ivy Ng Lee Fang and Nagulan Ravi wrote in a note dated May 31, 2021 that in early May 2021, it was reported that the Malaysian government had approved the return of about 32,000 foreign workers in batches to oil palm plantations in the country.
However, CGS-CIMB gathered that the plan had then been delayed, following the sharp rise in new COVID-19 cases in the country, according to Ng and Ravi.
On Bursa Malaysia today, Sime Darby Plantation's share price closed up nine sen or 2.31% to RM3.99 for a market value of about RM27.61 billion based on the company's 6.92 billion issued shares.
Chye said Hong Leong, which maintained its "buy" call for Sime Darby Plantation shares, had however cut its target price for the stock to RM4.99 from RM5.17.