Thu, 11 Aug 1994

Try Sutrisno wants SPSI to be more effective

JAKARTA (JP): Vice President Try Sutrisno yesterday said that All Indonesian Workers Union (SPSI) must enhance its role in promoting the welfare of its members.

In a speech closing a seminar on manpower, Try said the nation will be faced with a number of labor problems as the economy continues to grow. These problems, he said, will range from unemployment to industrial disputes amidst increasing demands for higher wages and better conditions.

"This calls for the SPSI to have a more effective role in accommodating workers' aspirations and fighting for their interests," he said.

SPSI, the only union recognized by the government to represent workers in Indonesia, has been widely criticized for its failure to fight for the interests of its members.

Try also called for a more effective way of mediating labor disputes through the tripartite boards comprising representatives of workers, employers and the government.

Yesterday's gathering was the last of seven seminars organized by the Ministry of Manpower, which is currently drawing up a long term strategy to tackle the country's manpower problems.

The seven seminars brought prominent speakers, Indonesians and foreigners, to address various issues such as unemployment, industrial relations, the national wage system, labor legislation, training, productivity and a vision of the ideal industrial society in Indonesia.

In his speech yesterday, Try also called on employers to pay more attention to workers' welfare.

Employers should stop treating their workers simply as tools of production but regard them as equal partners.

Workers are also entitled to enjoy the fruits of their labor in accordance with the level of their contribution, he said.

He appealed to both employers and workers to strive to achieve harmonious industrial relations.

He said many industrial disputes in the past turned violent, causing huge material losses to the detriment not only of the company but also the workers.

The closing ceremony, held at the Merdeka Selatan Palace, was attended by Minister of Manpower Abdul Latief, Chairman of the Association of Indonesian Employers (Apindo) Suratno, SPSI Chairman Imam Sudarwo and senior officials of the Manpower Ministry.

Try also warned that the unemployment rate in Indonesia is likely to increase in the coming years because the country cannot create job opportunities fast enough to accommodate the ever increasing number of workers.

He said the size of the labor force is predicted to increase from by 12.6 million from 69.1 million to 81.7 million in the next five years, while the number of new jobs is estimated to increase by only 11.9 million.

Official figures show that some 29 million people in Indonesia, representing about 30 percent of its work force, are out of job or underemployed. (rms)