La­bor unions fear lay­offs from toll gate au­to­ma­tion

The Jakarta Post - - FRONT PAGE -

Lay­offs just mat­ter of time as work­ers not trained for other units: KSPI Jasa Marga dis­misses fears of lay­offs

Thou­sands of toll gate op­er­a­tors have said they fear for their jobs with cash trans­ac­tions at all toll gates across In­done­sia set to end on Oct. 31.

Union lead­ers said that although man­age­ment had in­formed work­ers they would be moved to other toll road op­er­a­tion units, work­ers were not trained in other nec­es­sary skills, such as main­te­nance.

Su­marni, 43, one of the ap­prox­i­mately 10,000 toll gate op­er­a­tors in Greater Jakarta fac­ing pos­si­ble lay­off, said work­ers would re­sist mov­ing if they were re­lo­cated to other toll roads, for in­stance out­side Java.

She said her work was still needed as most mo­torists still pre­ferred cash trans­ac­tions.

“It is bet­ter for toll road users to be pro­vided with an op­tion to also use cards, in­stead of changing [the trans­ac­tion sys­tem] to be fully au­to­mated,” she said.

Bot­tle­necks are seen daily at toll gates such as in Pasar Rebo, East Jakarta, where Su­marni has worked since 1995, as only two out of seven gates ac­cepted cash, while most mo­torists still pre­ferred cash trans­ac­tions.

Lead­ers of the In­done­sian Work­ers Union As­so­ci­a­tion (Aspek) and the Con­fed­er­a­tion of In­done­sian Work­ers Union (KSPI) claimed re­cently that end­ing cash pay­ments at toll gates across the coun­try would re­sult in 20,000 lay­offs.

KSPI chair­man Said Iqbal said lay­offs were “just a mat­ter of time, be­cause most work­ers are not trained in other skills to work in other units, such as in the main­te­nance unit or rest area units.”

As state owned com­pa­nies, he said toll road op­er­a­tors should pri­or­i­tize cre­at­ing jobs in­stead of pro­ceed­ing with au­to­ma­tion. He added that In­done­sia was still not pre­pared for full au­to­ma­tion as un­em­ploy­ment was still high.

“More de­vel­oped coun­tries can pro­ceed with au­to­ma­tion be­cause their wel­fare sup­port sys­tems are bet­ter than ours,” he said.

In­done­sia’s un­em­ploy­ment rate has de­creased to 5.33 per­cent this year com­pared to last year’s 5.81 per­cent, ac­cord­ing to Cen­tral Statis­tics Agency (BPS) data. In Jakarta alone, the un­em­ploy­ment rate in Fe­bru­ary 2017 was 5.36 per­cent, a de­crease from last year’s 5.77 per­cent, ac­cord­ing to Jakarta Statis­tics Agency data.

Aspek pres­i­dent Mi­rah Su­mi­rat said au­to­ma­tion would not sig­nif­i­cantly in­crease ef­fi­ciency be­cause the main cause of con­ges­tion was the vol­ume of ve­hi­cles, short ac­cess roads be­tween toll gates and ar­te­rial roads, as well as mil­lions of trucks and other large ve­hi­cles mov­ing at slow speeds.

“Op­er­a­tors can com­plete trans­ac­tions at a rate of three to four sec­onds per ve­hi­cle, so it has noth­ing to do with time ef­fi­ciency,” Mi­rah said.

How­ever, PT Jasa Marga said gates that used cash took nine sec­onds to com­plete trans­ac­tions com­pared to au­to­mated gates that took four sec­onds.

Jasa Marga pres­i­dent di­rec­tor Dessy Ar­ryani dis­missed fears of lay­offs.

“The work­ers will be moved to work at our new toll roads be­cause Jasa Marga’s re­cently con­structed toll roads are in­creas­ing two-fold. We will also move them to the main­te­nance work unit and rest area lo­ca­tions,” she told The Jakarta Post.

Dessy also as­sured that the new units would be able to ac­com­mo­date the sur­plus of work­ers af­ter au­to­matic pay­ment at toll gates was im­ple­mented.

Bank In­done­sia has cam­paigned for cash­less trans­ac­tions since 2014 to com­pete with its re­gional peers that have ag­gres­sively moved to­ward cash­less so­ci­eties. In Malaysia and Thai­land, 80 per­cent of trans­ac­tions are cash­less, while in Sin­ga­pore the fig­ure reaches 90 per­cent.

More state-owned and pri­vate firms have also joined the cam­paign to in­tro­duce new pro­grams and prod­ucts to pro­mote cash­less trans­ac­tions.

State-owned en­ergy firm Per­tam­ina has in­creased the num­ber of “elec­tronic data cap­ture” ma­chines at its 5,300 gas sta­tions to in­crease cash­less trans­ac­tions. Taxi oper­a­tor Blue Bird has also been en­cour­ag­ing cash­less pay­ments in their op­er­a­tions, while ride-hail­ing ap­pli­ca­tion GoJek has in­tro­duced cash­less pay­ments through GoPay, its e-money ser­vice.

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