There are very few people living within our operational area. Historically, employment mainly consisted of drug trafficking and extensive low input cattle farming. We have created permanent employment for many members of the community, who are both men and women and some of whom are over 40 years of age.
We estimate we employ about 60% of the local community. For many of our employees this is their first-time full employment with all the associated benefits. We estimate that our planned developments will result in over 300 full time employment positions in 2023. Depending on investor commitment and ultimate scale, there is the opportunity for job creation of over 1000 positions.
FFC helps to empower women with employment and skills. We practice gender equality and have a policy in place to support this. Currently 25% of our direct employees are female.
Housing and Food
FFC provides housing and meals for our employees. All housed staff receive three free meals per day, while those living in the local village get two meals per day. Meal services are provided by local contractors, some of whom started their businesses with the support of FFC. Staff from the local village are transported to and from FFC’s operations daily.
FFC ensures that all employees have contracts, get paid monthly and that all social benefits, accounting for 35% of the daily wage are paid, including health insurance, contribution to retirement benefits, social security insurance and statutory bonus contributions. At the end of 2022, all the local employees at FFC had a full-time contract. Having a full-time job ensures better salaries, stability and full commitment to the company’s vision, mission and values. The lowest paid direct employee of FFC currently receives a salary 17% above the minimum wage, the benefits mentioned above and, if field based, free room and board while in camp.
A Commitment to Staying Local
Most of our staff have family in the town of Puerto Carreño or surrounding areas. We ensure that labour used in the nursery and silviculture operations are recruited locally. We also employ young college graduates and technicians with diplomas from the National Training Institute (SENA) into the operating teams. They are interested, informed and motivated, which will enable us to leapfrog the technological gap in the Colombian forestry sector. Even though core management functions will remain with FFC, our intention is to outsource most other operational functions to local businesses. For example, we have been able to outsource all silvicultural contracts and catering to local businesses and construction work to local individuals.
With a commitment to recruiting locally, about half of our staff have less than three years’ forestry experience. Therefore, FFC has invested in a training model that provides our employees with the necessary education needed to do their jobs and to ensure that they work in a safe and informed environment. This include learning about every step of the forestry process, workplace safety, technical equipment skills training, the use of enumeration equipment and the use of a GPS for land preparation when operating a tractor. Labourers have requested literacy and further skills training and a program is being developed to address this.
The nature of the training provides employees with transferable skills that allows for them to find other forms of employment, specifically in the forestry and broader agricultural sector.
In 2023, our training plans will include employee exchanges with SAPPI to enable our employees to benefit from their world class knowledge.