Central Romana: Investing in the Community
Moving forward with firm steps toward implementing its commitments on corporate social responsibility, Central Romana Corporation Ltd., has concluded reorganizing and improving Batey Cacata, one of many agricultural communities in the Dominican Republic that harvests sugarcane. This work required an investment of more than $5 million and was part of a model pilot program that will be extended to all the bateys of the agricultural division of the company.
New Sanitation Infrastructure
As a first step, Central Romana’s engineers designed new sanitation infrastructure that includes a system to continuously supply potable water, a sewer system, and wastewater management system for all housing facilities in the rural community of Batey Cacata. This project required the company to build an aqueduct with a pumping station that can supply potable drinking water from two wells and fill a 100,000-gallon stainless steel tank as fast as 100 gallons per minute.
All of the families that live in Batey Cacata, which was improved and expanded with new housing facilities, can now access water taps for drinking, cooking, and personal hygiene. Water is distributed to facilities both inside houses and in common areas. Latrines, shower facilities, and sinks now have a continuous water supply.
Water is purified while running in the aqueduct using a controlled method that employs naturally produced oxygen through a photosynthesis process. This type of natural treatment is the most appropriate technology to purify water in rural areas.
The sanitation project is complemented by a new sewer system that discharges wastewater into a treatment facility. The new sanitation infrastructure ensures the welfare and health of the population living the in the batey.
In addition, existing green areas in the Batey Cacata were upgraded and new ones were created. Fruit trees, such as breadfruit, avocado, Dominican cherry, soursop, and mango, in addition to other non-fruit species such as palm, dove, and neem threes were planted in those areas. The inhabitants of the batey also have the option to farm small plots of land near their houses where they can harvest fast growing vegetables and other plants.
Over the course of the next five to ten years, Central Romana will rehabilitate and improve the facilities of its sugarcane communities, using the investment made in the new Batey Cacata as a model and replicating it in each batey according to need.
Improving Environmental Sustainability
In another important step toward implementing its corporate social responsibility program, Central Romana reduced the solid particle emissions level from its sugar mill by more than 90 percent. This was done by installing electrostatic precipitators in the boiler systems of the sugar mill. Those systems filter tiny particles more efficiently using electrical charges (or ionization processes), significantly reducing pollution.
Increasing Worker Benefits
Central Romana continues to increase personnel benefits by providing healthcare above what is mandated by Dominican law, by providing quality schools for the children of employees, and by ensuring better working conditions agreed through collective bargaining agreements with the United Workers Union, the company’s union.
In this regard, a new labor pact, which runs until 2019, was signed in 2016. Under the pact, the company agreed to a wage increase of 18 percent over the course of three years. In addition, annual bonuses, Christmas bonuses and holiday incentives were also increased by the same percentage. An increment of 23 percent was agreed for training and staff development plans, and for educational programs for the children of employees. Programs for accident prevention and occupational diseases were strengthened, too.
Prior to signing the new collective bargaining agreement, Central Romana increased funding between 25 to 66 percent for certain social programs or workers’ benefits, including the amount of paid leave and the amount of soft loans to workers in case of emergency.
For more than 50 years, Central Romana has promoted the freedom of association of its workforce, thereby achieving a positive and productive work environment, that delivers important mutual benefits to workers and the company.
Over the 2015 – 2017 period, the company has invested more than 2.5 billion pesos ($50.5 million) in the sugar producing operation. This substantial investment made by the company helps ensure compliance with Dominican environmental law, reduce the environmental impact of industrial processes, advance technical progress achieved by engineers of the milling plant, and improve labor and living conditions of workers.