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Jakarta Post

Nearly 190, 000 dismissed tourism workers join preemployment card program

  • Riza Roidila Mufti

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Mon, April 13, 2020   /   05:45 pm
Nearly 190, 000 dismissed tourism workers join preemployment card program Workers from the Cultural Conservation Center (BPCB) spray disinfectant at Prambanan temple in Sleman, Yogyakarta, on March 13 to prevent the spread of COVID-19. (Antara/Hendra Nurdiyansyah)

Nearly 190,000 former tourism workers will join the government’s preemployment card program, which was established to help terminated employees find new jobs, a minister has said.

Indonesia’s tourism has been hit hard by the COVID-19 outbreak, which has shut down borders and put a halt to global travel.

The data on people who previously worked in hotels and other tourism-related companies across Indonesia is taken from related business associations and organizations, Tourism and Creative Economy Minister Wishnutama Kusubandio said in Jakarta on Sunday.

 “The data consists of workers, informal workers and laid-off workers in tourism, as well as workers from the creative economy, such as artists, performers and members or employees of various television and film associations,” he said.

According to the Office of the Coordinating Economic Minister, which spearheads the national committee for job creation, the preemployment program had garnered 1.4 million applicants just a day after registration opened on Saturday.

The government has doubled its budget for the program to about Rp 20 trillion (US$1.27 billion) to upskill about 5.6 million workers who have lost their jobs because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Participants of the preemployment card program will undergo training for four months and each will receive Rp 3.5 million; Rp 1 million for training costs, monthly pocket money worth Rp 600,000 for four months and Rp 150,000 for survey expenses. The money will be transferred to their bank accounts or to their digital wallets, such as GoPay and LinkAja.

The COVID-19 pandemic has left tourist destinations across the county empty of visitors. Many hotels have been temporarily closed due to a lack of guests.

As of Wednesday, 1,266 hotels have temporarily halted operations, according to Indonesian Hotel and Restaurant Association (PHR) chairman Hariyadi Sukamdani.

Of those, 844 hotels have registered 74,100 of their former employees for the preemployment card program.

“Many hotels have not provided data on their former employees. We’re worried that many hotels don’t really care about their former employees, who really needed help getting new jobs,” Hariyadi said.

He added that collecting data on affected workers in the hotel and restaurant industry alone was challenging as many businesses were lagging in providing the PHRI the necessary information. Meanwhile, the association also needed time to review and verify the data before submitting it to the government.

 “So, the data collection process has been pretty slow,” he said on Wednesday.

Association of Indonesian Tour and Travel Agencies (ASITA) chairman Nunung Rusmiati also said that ASITA’s 7,000 members had been trying not to lay off workers, even though the outbreak had crippled their business.

Many association members have decided to keep their workers but carry out extra cost-efficiency measures, such as cutting salaries by 50 percent, in order to survive.

“If we don’t cut their salaries, we would really struggle […] We are also offering employees unpaid leave,” Nunung said.

According to Hariyadi, who is also chairman of the Indonesia Employers Association (Apindo), amusement parks and zoos have also been greatly affected by COVID-19. With almost no visitors, many have not been able to operate, which leaves their workers and animals at risk. 

“We hope that this sector will also receive attention from the government.”