9.77 million pandemic job losses

Speaker of the of the People’s Consultative Assembly (Majelis Permusyawaratan Rakyat Republik Indonesia – “MPR RI”) Bambang Soesatyo. (Photo: Rayi Gigih/IO)

 IO – Speaker of the of the People’s Consultative Assembly (“MPR RI”) Bambang Soesatyo (“Bamsoet”) notes that layoffs increased sharply during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Indonesian Chamber of Commerce reported that more than 6.4 million workers have been terminated up to early October 2020, while the Ministry of Finance added that 2.67 million more have become unemployed since then. That makes the total of 9.77 million recently-unemployed by November 2020. 

“Companies cite the distress of the overall economy, a victim of the COVID-19 pandemic, as the primary reason for cutting back on the human resources they normally employ. A weak economy causes lower income in turn, while fixed labor costs remained constant. In order to reduce the number of dismissals, companies must complement the Government’s efforts through the National Economic Recovery (Pemulihan Ekonomi Nasional – “PEN”) Program by optimizing their HR and adapting them by improving their workers’ technological literacy,” he suggested, during the discussion “Optimizing HR Amid the COVID-19 Pandemic” held jointly by the Coordinator of the Senayan Parliamentary Journalists and the Coordinating Minister of Human Development and Cultural Affairs, Muhadjir Effendy, at the Parliamentary Complex in Jakarta today, Wednesday (02/12/2020). 

Bamsoet further surmised that since human interaction is restrained due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many work activities had to be performed from home or elsewhere, using digital platforms. Such methods require active communications using the internet and information technology. However, these methods should not cause significant obstructions, “As the Indonesian Internet Service Provider Association (Asosiasi Penyelenggara Jasa Internet Indonesia – “APJII”) survey found, internet penetration level in Indonesia as of Quarter II of 2020 was 73.7%. That means about 196.7 million Indonesian people are able to access internet services,” he said. 

Bamsoet then said that any step or policy taken to optimize the role of HR during the COVID-19 pandemic must continue to prioritize the health and safety of employees above business interests. In other words, adjustments must be made. For example, the working site and environs must be regulated in such a way that they provide safe and healthy protection, both physical and psychological. “This is important, because the people’s psychological condition is also significantly affected during the COVID-19 pandemic. A sense of comfort and safety is key to the optimizing of HR performance,” he said. 

Bamsoet further requests workers, whether they are employed in offices or at home, to remain disciplined in their maintenance of health protocols and in their application of a clean and healthy lifestyle, “Since the COVID-19 infection rate in Indonesia is still quite high. In fact, the number of new cases has increased more than 5,000 cases a day over the past few days,” he said. (Dan)