Quietly, secretly, hundreds of workers being laid off

Kompas – December 11, 2008
Apindo general chairperson Sofjan Wanandi (Liputan 6)
Apindo general chairperson Sofjan Wanandi (Liputan 6)

Jakarta – The number of workers that have already been dismissed appears to be extraordinarily large. At least, this is the version being given by employers. The Indonesian Employers Association (Apindo) has stated that hundreds of thousands of workers have quietly been losing their jobs – a euphemism for being sacked (PHK).

Apindo general chairperson Sofjan Wanandi said that every member of Apindo has begun dismissing between eight hundred to thousands of workers. Mass dismissals have been taking place in the textile, garment, plantation and construction industries. “Currently we are working with permanent employees, contract workers have already been dismissed”, said Wanandi on Wednesday December 10.

The majority of Apindo members also claim that they are no longer capable of providing various types of allowances and bonuses to workers. This is the reason that Wanandi hopes that the government will move quickly to overcome the problems that constrain employers who have been forced to reduce production because overseas buyers, particularly the US and Europe, have cut demand.

Wanandi added that employers are being progressively squeezed because the banking industry has also begun to careful about providing credit. As a result, employers are forced to economise on production costs by means of reducing their work force.

Wanandi’s remarks are not very different from Indonesian Textile Association (API) data. API is predicting that 10 percent out of a total of 2.1 million people in the textile industry will loose their jobs. “The crisis is really happening. Like it or not we have to reduce [the number of] employees”, said API secretary general Ernovian G. Ismy.

If these statements are indeed correct, the number of dismissals is clearly very different from the government’s version. The Department of Labour and Transmigration (Depnakertrans) has records the number of dismissed workers in the thousands.

Out of the requests to dismiss 23,927 workers, 17,418 were officially dismissed on December 5. Those that have been ‘sent home’ (laid off) meanwhile stand at 6,597 workers out of a planned 19,091 employees.

It is because of this therefore, that the government has been reluctant to respond to these alarming statements by employers. “The government [can] only give [its] views in accordance with official data”, said Depnakertrans Director General for Industrial Relations and Social Security, Myra M. Hanartani. (Hans Henricus B, Martina Prianti, Yohan Rubiyantoro)

[Translated by James Balowski.]