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Low productivity caused by old machinery, poor infrastructure: Activist

Berita Satu - August 8, 2013

Shesar Andriawan/FMB, Jakarta Ė According to Budi Wardoyo, the national secretary of Politics of the People and the Joint Labour Secretariat (Sekber Buruh) working body, complaints [by employers] about the large number of public holidays that cause a drop in productivity are simply a red herring.

Wardoyo said other issues aside from public holidays contribute more to the decline in productivity. The following factors were mention by Wardoyo when contacted by Berita Satu by phone on Thursday August 8.

"First, machinery that is old and out of date. The older the machines the lower the performance. There was once a government program to replace old machines, but it failed to be realised."

"Second, infrastructure that is not good yet. For example there are roads with potholes that are the cause of traffic congestion. That's why if you want to transport goods to the Tanjung Priok [port in North Jakarta] it takes so long, so it's not possible to take advantage of optimal time."

And on the third issue, Wardoyo said that the real reason productivity is low is because of the continued dependence in imported raw materials.

"What often happens is we export raw materials, then it's processed overseas into a semi-finished material, and then we buy it back again. Since Dutch colonial times we've had a tendency to follow overseas market trends. In the past for example in Europe allspice was expensive, so we here were used as a center for its production", said Wardoyo.

Wardoyo said that Indonesian employers are not prepared to fight this situation. If there were then Indonesia could create its own market without needing to worry about overseas trends.

Wardoyo does not see that Indonesia needs to increase the number of working hours. "In Indonesia right now our working hours are 40 hours a week, but in Germany it's only 32 hours and [they] can still be productive. Another example is the issue of leave, in Venezuela if a female workers gives birth she's given one year's leave and an allowance as well so she can concentrate on taking care of the child", he said.

"Meanwhile in Indonesia it is only one month at most. So the child has to be left in the care of relatives or a child care centre. This can be a burden for the mother".

In order to increase productivity, Wardoyo said that workers need to have a higher level of education that now.

"The quality of workers' education in Indonesia is still low. Many of them cannot access adequate education. On average they have only graduated from junior high school, there are few senior high school graduates, let alone those with diplomas or degrees. The higher the education level the easier it is for workers to be taught many things", said Wardoyo.

[Serikat Buruh: Cuti Bersama Bukan Alasan Utama Produktivitas Rendah - beritasatu.com. Kamis, 08 Agustus 2013. Translated by James Balowski for the Indoleft news service.]

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