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Millions of Indonesian workers seek lay-off assurances

Unions call on employers to only cut jobs as a last resort and to ensure workers' rights are observed

Millions of Indonesian workers seek lay-off assurances

Church activists from St. Anna Duren Sawit Parish in Jakarta distribute aid to workers who were laid off due to the Covid-19 pandemic. (Photo supplied)


Workers in Indonesia have appealed to employers to show them some empathy during the Covid-19 pandemic by guaranteeing their rights and making lay-offs the very last option.

A total of 1.7 million workers have been laid off as a result of social distancing restrictions imposed in a number of cities, according to Manpower Minister Ida Fauziyah.

Confederation of Indonesian Worker Unions president Said Iqbal said millions more could face a similar fate.

"At present there is an emergency. There are millions of other workers who are threatened with lay-offs. Now is the time for all parties to think of a joint solution,” he told UCA News.

"Employers must empathize with workers and ensure that their rights are upheld, both related to wages and benefits." 

If all possibilities have been looked at and lay-offs are unavoidable, then this should be done by taking into account the rights of workers, he said.

"Companies laying off workers must be examined by the government to see whether they really are suffering acute losses or whether they are just using the pandemic to fire workers," he said.

Adhi Lukman, chairman of the Association of Food and Beverage Entrepreneurs, said 20-30 percent of workers in the food and beverage industry had been laid off.

President Joko Widodo on April 30 said the government was preparing a stimulus package to reduce the burden on employers, including easing rules on payments for social security contributions and workers' pension guarantees.

Faisal Saimima, head of the Indonesia Care and Unity Movement, an interfaith organization that helps workers who have lost their jobs, said many workers are facing difficulties, especially those in big cities.

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His organization and several Catholic groups are looking to provide food assistance for one million workers. This includes providing food for 390 families in East Jakarta in cooperation with St. Anna Duren Sawit Parish.

Robbie Purwantoro from the parish’s social economy empowerment desk said it was their duty to help people affected by the pandemic, especially workers. “We need a spirit of solidarity and unity during these times,” he said.

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