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Indonesian employers, unions team up to counter impact of Chinese imports
The Indonesian Employers Association (Apindo) announced Thursday that the grouping of Indonesian manufacturers were joining labour unions in a National Bipartite Forum, aiming to come up with joint strategies to counter potential impacts of the Asean-China Free Trade Agreement.
The move is the latest attempt by related stakeholders after demanding the government request to postpone the full implementation of the FTA.
The government has sent a formal letter to Beijing requesting a renegotiation, but stakeholders fear this will be fruitless.
“We will work together to face the presence of Chinese goods [on the market] to save each industry and protect [workers] against dismissal,” Apindo chairman Sofjan Wanandi said Thursday at a press conference.
“It will be hard for us not to be united in facing the FTA because [China] is big.”
Indonesian Labor Union for Prosperity (KSBSI) deputy president Sulistri said the forum was developed in response to anxiety among workers over potential dismissals the FTA would cause.
State enterprise workers’ union secretary Suripto Sabardi also said state enterprises were “restructuring” their management, particularly those who were about to retire, in response to the implementation of the FTA.
Sofjan urged employers to consider alternatives to restructuring and dismissals.
Workshops would be provided for workers by both employers and workers, to improve the competitiveness of Indonesian manufacturers.
Signed in 2004, the FTA has eaten up part of the market for early harvest fruit and vegetable produce since it came into effect one year later.
Local manufacturers fear they will become victims to the zero tariffs on 6,682 tariff lines in 17 sectors, including 12 in manufacturing, at the beginning of the year.
Apart from attempts to compete with Chinese products, Sofjan said the forum would also work to resolve disputes between employers and workers.
Workers’ unions having trouble should report immediately to the forum for advocacy, Sofjan said.
“I will also talk to employers [to look for] win-win solutions,” he said.
Sofjan said the forum would also work on revisions to manpower-related laws including the 2003 Law on Employment, the 2001 Law on Workers’ Unions, the 1992 Law on Social Security for Workers (Jamsostek), the 2004 Law on the Social Security System, the 2003 Law on Industrial Relations and the 2004 Law on Industrial Dispute Settlement.
Aiming to reach a win-win solution for employers and workers, the forum needed to amend “a few articles” in those laws, including two contentious issues of outsourcing and severance pay, he said.
The forum had asked the Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI) to investigate which manpower-related laws and articles needed to be revised, Sofjan said.