MPR reminds Govt: IDR 20 trillion Pre-Employment Card Program “to be on target”

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The Pre-Employment Card Registration Form can be accessed at prakerja.go.id from 11 to 16 April 2020. (Photo: IO/Rayi Gigih)

IO – After having postponed several launches, the government finally announced the registration of the Pre-Employment card Saturday, April 11, 2020. The opening of Pre-Employment Card registration that had been echoed since the Joko Widodo-Maruf Amin campaign was overseen by Coordinating Minister for Economic Affairs Airlangga Hartanto. Airlangga explained that the Pre-Employment card registration was carried out in several stages. The first opening will target 164,000 citizens. Disappointing, as according to some parties this does not fulfill the initial promise, where the program is stated to be able to reach around 5.6 million people. 

What’s more, to get a government assistance fund of IDR 3,550,000, those over 18 years of age must also register at prakerja.go.id and undergo several stages up to a basic skills test consisting of 19 questions, worked in a maximum of 25 minutes in the period 11 to 16 April 2020. Persons who qualify will be given online training worth IDR 1 million, and an intensive fee of IDR 600.00, which will be disbursed for 4 months, with employment survey incentives of IDR 150,000. 

The launch of the Pre-Employment card, which is expected to assist workers affected by layoffs due to the Coronavirus, was lauded by MPR Deputy Chairman Lestari Moerdijat. However, she mentioned that in its implementation the government should be wise and prudent, because the first wave of the Pre-Employment card quota is only for 164,000 workers, while those in need of jobs number millions. “When the government set social distancing due to the outbreak of COVID-19 until now many companies have laid off employees,” said Deputy Chairman of the MPR from the NasDem Party Faction in her statement on Monday (04/13/2020). 

In the requirements to get a Pre-Employment card, it is stated that those who can register are citizens at least 18 years old. The government did not however mention any maximum age limit for those entitled to receive funds. She also asked the government to supervise the realization of the budget of the Pre-Employment card of IDR 20 trillion, and not to allow this program to become wasteful. “Do not let applicants get frustrated because they have collided with requirements they cannot fulfill. And for those who have undergone training, the government should also be preparing for follow-ups like opportunities or job vacancies for them,” said the woman familiarly called Rerie. 

No training needed 

Responding to the Pre-Employment card program recently launched by the government, President of the Confederation of Indonesian Trade Unions (KSPI) Said Iqbal suggested that the government provide wage subsidies to affected workers. He mentioned that the cost of training (estimated at IDR 1 million) could be given directly to workers. “…there is 600 thousand cash, then there is IDR 1 million training. It’s better not to have the training but cash only. The nominal gets bigger. Now that’s a wage subsidy,” he said. 

According to him, sectors that need to be prioritized include namely tourism and its derivatives, including hotels and restaurants, as well as small enterprises and online transportation. They can be given wage subsidy assistance for a certain period until the economy recovers from the Coronavirus. “But of course for a certain period, for example, 6 months or several months. It should not continue. It is hoped that the Corona pandemic will be terminated as well,” he warned. 

In line with Iqbal, Secretary-General of the All-Indonesian Workers’ Organization (OPSI) Timboel Siregar said the training program contained in the Pre-Employment card should be eliminated. “This worker card is indeed a very good spirit, especially its added value, only amid an outbreak situation like this, it should be oriented not to training but to assistance. The way it is now, there is monetary support but the person must be trained first,” said Timboel, Monday (04/13/2020). 

Timboel stated that workers who were currently laid off, especially those who received no severance pay, only needed help, not training. “They only need help, you know. Please ask the person whose need is for help, and not expecting to be retrained,” said Timboel. 

Regarding online training, according to him, it will not be easy for workers. With online training, workers must have mobile devices and at least additional funds for internet quota. “Now, while we are in a desperate state of shortage, workers do not necessarily have such luxuries, not to mention buying quota too – right out of money again. I don’t see the urgency of such training,” he said. 

In line with Timboel, labor observer at Airlangga University Hadi Subhan, said that the current training program for the Pre-Employment card is not appropriate. It is better if the IDR 3.5 million budgeted per worker is given entirely for assistance to workers. “What’s not right is the content of the training, right? He said the workers get IDR 3.5 million; this should be to help layoff victims, rather like unpaid severance pay, so they can still get some kind of monthly income. The focus should be on direct assistance, not training hungry people,” declared Hadi. 

Hadi also assessed that workers who have already been laid off also no longer need training, because they have been trained on previous jobs. “For what else are they to be trained?” said Hadi. 

1.5 million laid off 

Based on the latest data from the Ministry of Manpower the number of workers/laborers who have lost their employment until now numbers 1,506,713. Of this number, 1.24 million workers are from the formal sector from 51,565 companies and 265,881 workers are from the informal sector. The number of workers laid off from 27,340 companies reached 1,080,765. Meanwhile, those informal workers who were laid off numbered 160,067 workers from 24,225 companies. “As of today, there are 1.5 million people, of whom 10% have been laid off permanently; 90% of these have been laid off temporarily. This means that layoffs are still a choice or a last resort,” said Minister of Manpower Ida Fauziyah in a virtual press conference Opening of Pre-Employment Card Registration, Saturday (11/04/2020). 

Ida commended the businesses that were still committed to retaining their employees and who avoided layoffs. Ida also asked companies to take alternative steps to avoid layoffs, such as reducing wages and top-level worker facilities, such as managerial and director levels, reducing work shifts, limiting/eliminating overtime work, reducing working hours, reducing workdays, and laying off workers/laborers in rotation temporarily. “These alternative steps must be discussed first with relevant worker/labor representatives,” she suggested. (dan)