President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono warned employers across the country Wednesday against resorting to layoffs whenever disagreement arose between them and their workers.
The President urged businesspeople to instead open up dialogues to solve workplace disputes.
"Employers and workers need each other," the President told members of the Indonesian Employers Association (Apindo) upon opening the organization's congress at the State Palace.
Yudhoyono said he was concerned about news reports of companies dismissing their employees.
"Every time massive layoffs occur, I cannot sleep, as many people gather outside the palace and a barrage of text messages floods my mobile phone to protest the dismissal," the President said.
He called on both employers and employees to forge partnerships to avoid conflicts that could lead to layoffs, strikes and demonstrations.
Good relations between the two groups would also help the investment climate, which eventually could create more jobs, cut unemployment and alleviate poverty, he said.
If investment jumped in volume, Yudhoyono said, tax revenue would rise, allowing the government to manage the state budget better and improve people's welfare.
"If investment increases in the country, it is a high and good deed. And people and I, myself, will be happy," the President said.
A recent survey has suggested foreign investors see frequent strikes and a labor law that favors workers as barriers to making new investment or continuing their current investment in the country.
The President's statement came against the backdrop of a global economic crisis due to soaring fuel prices and the U.S. economic slowdown. Indonesia lived up to its economic growth target of 6.3 percent last year -- albeit after revision -- but the number of new jobs was less than expected.
Economic hardship facing businesses in Indonesia, in particular due to the 2005 fuel prices hike, has resulted in layoffs of up to 1 million workers every year, the Manpower Ministry said.
Apindo chairman Sofyan Wanandi said the organization's congress was aimed at enhancing partnership between employers and employees and workers' organizations.
"Politicizing and old paradigms to segregate businesspeople and workers should be left behind. It's time for a new paradigm. We realize that without workers business will not grow and businesspeople can't do anything," he said.
Yudhoyono asked businesspeople and state officials to support the government program to save fuel and conserve energy and telephone use, which he said had been wasted.
"If we fail in our efforts to promote efficiency, we will have to allocate more subsidies to poor people," he said.
Vice President Jusuf Kalla is scheduled to close the three-day congress on Friday.