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Indonesia

1.5m Indonesian workers face uncertainty due to Covid-19

Workers among first wave of employees laid off, made redundant when companies shut down

1.5m Indonesian workers face uncertainty due to Covid-19

Father Fredy Rante Taruk (left), executive director of Caritas Indonesia, and Jesuit Father Christopher Kristiono Puspo, director of Jakarta Archdiocese’s Daya Dharma Institute, prepare food packages for families affected by Covid-19. (Photo: Daya Dharma)

More than 1.5 million Indonesian workers are facing uncertain futures after their companies closed when the government instructed people to stay at home due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

According to the Manpower Ministry, about 10 percent have lost their jobs permanently, while the others have been laid off.

Millions more face similar fates if their employers are forced to shut down.

More than 30,000 companies have been affected nationwide including hotels, factories, department stores, restaurants, cafes and travel firms. Most were forced to halt operations at the beginning of March to prevent transmission of the deadly virus. 

Manpower Minister Ida Fauziyah called on businessmen to talk with labor unions to try and come up with acceptable solutions. 

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People losing their jobs should be the last resort when everything else has failed, she said. "It’s important during this difficult time that business owners and workers build good relations,” she said. 

President Joko Widodo said the government is providing funds to help workers in need. He said the government has set up programs to help six million more workers who could be laid off by their employers, both in the informal and formal sectors.

Widodo said the government will allocate 20 trillion rupiah (US$1.5 billion) to help workers in Jakarta and surrounding cities. Each family will receive about US$254 per month.

Maria, 34, said she had been working at a luxury hotel in Jakarta for more than seven years but has not been paid this month as the hospitality sector has been one of the worst hit by the coronavirus.

“I’m worried that I will lose my job if the pandemic does not disappear in the next three months," said the worker, who only gave her Christian name.

She said she would try to get government help. “I will really need that money,” she said.

Maulana Yusran, deputy chairman of the Association of Indonesian Hotels and Restaurants, acknowledged that many hotel employees had been laid off.

"If we don’t do this, we will not survive. Hotel operations are dependent on cash flow,” he said.

Jakarta Archdiocese says it is helping laid-off workers.

“Since March we have been delivering food packages to them,” said Jesuit Father Christopher Kristiono Puspo, director of Jakarta Archdiocese’s social arm, the Daya Dharma Institute (LDD).

LDD will continue helping them until the coronavirus crisis ends, he added.

As of April 14, Indonesia had recorded 4,839 confirmed Covid-19 cases and 459 deaths. 

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