Labor unions fear layoffs from toll gate automation
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.