Ghina Ghaliya, Jakarta – The House of Representatives and labor unions are calling on the government and all companies to take measures to avoid widespread layoffs, especially in sectors that have been impacted by the social distancing practiced to stop COVID-19 from spreading.
Lawmaker Obon Tabroni of House Commission IX overseeing labor said on Monday that employers should ensure that workers, especially those who are contract-based, who take leave as a precaution against the pandemic should be treated as on-duty and they should not lose their salaries.
He said the government also needs to provide financial assistance through cash transfers to low-income people to maintain their purchasing power.
"Workers in the tourism and hospitality sectors have been affected by the coronavirus, as well as in the retail sector. Do not misuse this time as a moment to lay off workers," the Gerindra Party politician said in a statement on Monday.
Indonesia has yet to estimate potential job losses caused by the COVID-19 crisis. However, the government has allocated Rp 120 trillion (US$7.5 billion) to stimulate the economy by providing tax incentives and subsidies for workers, businesses and families affected by the pandemic.
It has also issued a second stimulus package, worth Rp 22.9 trillion, which includes individual and corporate tax breaks, as well as relaxation of loan disbursement and restructuring requirements
On Friday, the government teamed up with online marketplaces, e-wallets and education technology platforms to launch a preemployment card program amid an emergency response to support the workforce hit by the adverse economic impacts of COVID-19.
Registration is to open at the beginning of April 2020. Participants are to get Rp 650,000 after three months of training.
However, Obon argued that the preemployment card program was not made to prevent layoffs, but to subsidize workers who had lost their jobs.
The chief of the Confederation of Indonesian Trade Unions, Said Iqbal, suggested a shift system, or partial dismissal, in a bid to keep production running without laying off workers.
He said the pandemic was occurring almost all over the world and not only in Indonesia. Therefore, he encouraged the companies to start renegotiating with their buyers and suppliers, especially those related closely to the global supply chain.
"If they don't renegotiate, we're worried that their production would decrease and it would lead to layoffs," he said.