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NEWS UPDATES 7 July 2010

Swiss help Indonesia’s SMEs

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President of the Swiss Confederation Doris Leuthard signed an agreement in Indonesia on Tuesday to improve the quality, productivity and working conditions of Indonesia’s small and medium businesses. The SCORE program is being coordinated by the International Labour Organization (ILO) and has been funded by the Swiss government at a cost of US$5 million across seven countries, including Indonesia, China, Vietnam and South Africa, the Jakarta Post reports.

It is designed to increase healthy competition between private enterprises by encouraging workplace cooperation, quality management and cleaner production, whilst maintaining safe working environments.

In a launch ceremony held before representatives of Indonesia’s Manpower and Transmigration Ministry and the Indonesia Employers Association, President Leuthard outlined that increasing social partnerships in the workplace were fundamental to the development of Indonesia’s small businesses.

Leuthard, who is on a four-day visit to Indonesia, called for the integration of “human values” in business culture with a commitment to “social partners” — a policy she identified “as part of daily life” in Switzerland.

“We’re here to promote partnerships and social engagement,” she said. “The positive impact of these partnerships shows that the ILO’s standards are alive and implemented around the world.”

“Switzerland has a long history of social dialogue and social freedom. Increasing productivity and competition does not make the process less social. Simple and efficient measures can be used to increase higher standards, which can only be accomplished with the full and comprehensive participation of the workforce”. Peter van Rooij, officer-in-charge of ILO Jakarta, commented that SCORE intended to make a “practical contribution to create decent work that is crucial for living standards”, identifying that small businesses were “key to creating and sustaining work for all”.

He stated that Indonesia was a “major and rising country” but highlighted that the private sector battles with “pressures from communities and legislation”, hoping that it could benefit from the “excellent working relationship” shared by the Swiss government and the ILO.

Manpower and Transmigration Minister Muhaimin Iskandar expressed his “highest gratitude” to the Swiss government for its help in developing the workforce. He announced that “70 percent of workers in Indonesia are formally employed by SMEs [small and medium enterprises]” but that the “quality of employment” was “still of concern”.

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