Oktovianus Mahuze Milafo, a customary landowner whose land is used for oil palm plantation by PT BIA. - Jubi/Frans L Kobun

Indigenous community employed by the palm oil plantation company PT BIA as manual workers

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Merauke, Jubi – Oktovianus Mahuze Milafo, a customary landowner whose land is used by PT BIA for oil palm plantation (https://www.ptbia.co.id/), talked about his dissatisfaction after finding out that two customary landowners hired by the company located at Ulilin Sub-district, Merauke Regency, Papua, as manual workers only.

“We, Mahuze Milafi clan, own 3,000 hectares of the land under the management of PT BIA. In the meantime, 900 hectares of the total land used for oil palm plantation,” said Oktavinus Mahuze to Jubi in an interview held in Kindiki Village of Ulilin Sub-district, Merauke Regency, earlier this week.

Regarding employment, he said the indigenous community as the customary landowners mostly employed as land cleaners, palm oil harvesters, and chainsaw operators, and only two customary landowners recruited to work in PT BIA Office.

It contradicts with their expectation as the customary landowners to work in the office. “That is right if some indigenous people from Kindiki Village whose land is used for palm oil plantation by PT BIA work in the palm oil plantation. We thought the company should recruit them to work at the office,” he said.

In the meantime, PT BIA Public Relations Officer Erwan told Jubi on Friday (7/8/2020) that he must confirm this complaint to the Human Resources Department first to clarify the issue.

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‘We also have data on the indigenous peoples working in the PT BIA office. Where did the data saying only two people hired in the office come from?” Erwan asked Jubi in an unfriendly tone.

The corporation should provide short and long-term community programs

Given that PT BIA has long been operating in Muting Sub-district, Merauke Regency, a religious leader is concerned about how the corporation does not accommodate the local community to get a better position in the corporation. It only focuses on business.

“The corporation should consider to provide both short and long-term programs to offer to the customary landowners,” said Pastor Anselmus Amo, the Director of the Secretariat of Justice and Peace (SKP) of Merauke Archdiocese (KAME), on Saturday (8/8/2020).

According to him, PT BIA should provide training, courses and other empowerment programs to the community as part of their short-term program, while providing scholarship for children and youth to access various levels of education can be their long-term program. Therefore, it would accommodate them to access employment in the office after finishing their studies.

“If PT BIA has no such policy like this, the customary landowners would continue to become manual workers in the palm oil plantation. As a result, the complaint and demonstration would continue to emerge because they cannot be hired to work in the office,” added Pastor Amo.

PT BIA’s unresponsive attitude towards the customary landowners is ironic because it has been operating in the village for a long time. It means the corporation only wants to do a shortcut by bringing workers from outside rather than invest in education for the children of the customary landowners.

“If it has not put this matter as a priority, it is a failure of the corporation because they have not provided proper investment on education for the customary landowners,” said Pastor Amo. (*)

 

Reporter: Ans K

Editor: Pipit Maizier

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