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President of Switzerland launches project to support Indonesian small and medium-sized enterprises

The President of the Swiss Confederation, H.E. Madame Doris Leuthard, attended the launch of an ILO project designed to help Indonesia’s small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) become more competitive and sustainable by focusing on workplace cooperation and improving labour and working conditions.

News | 09 July 2010

JAKARTA (ILO News) − The President of the Swiss Confederation, H.E. Madame Doris Leuthard, attended on July 6th in Jakarta the launch of an ILO project on Sustaining Competitive and Responsible Enterprises (SCORE), designed to help Indonesia’s small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) become more competitive and sustainable by focusing on workplace cooperation and improving labour and working conditions.

SCORE aims to boost quality and productivity of local SMEs, improve their working conditions, reduce their environmental footprints and strengthen collaboration and communication between employers and workers. It will also help enterprises to become more competitive internationally and to create jobs.

The International Labour Organization is implementing the project in collaboration with Indonesia’s Ministry of Manpower & Transmigration, the Indonesian Employers Association (APINDO), trade unions and the Dharma Bhakti Astra Foundation. It is funded by the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO).

The Joint Commitment for the project was signed by trade unions and employers’ association representatives and witnessed by President Leuthard, Mr. Muhaimin Iskandar, Minister of Manpower and Transmigration and Mr. Peter Van Rooij, Officer-in Charge of the ILO’s Jakarta Office.

President Leuthard spoke of the need to integrate “human values” in business culture and observed that “increasing productivity and competitiveness does not make the process less social. Higher standards can only be accomplished with the full and comprehensive participation of the workforce.”

Indonesia’s Minister of Manpower and Transmigration, Mr. Muhaimin Iskandar, said his government “strongly promotes the establishment of bipartite-cooperation forums in companies, to not only resolve industrial relations issues related to workers welfare, but also to support issues such as capacity building of human resources, productivity, and occupational health and safety in mutually reinforcing ways".

“Switzerland and the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs are funding and supporting the SCORE programme because we believe that through this programme we can help to improve labour and working conditions in Indonesia,” said Jürg Schneider, Head of Economic Development Cooperation (SECO). “This country has a lot of SMEs and many of them are in need of such a programme to improve national and international productivity and competitiveness.”

Most SMEs in Indonesia are vulnerable to external shocks. They have found it difficult to sustain operations in the context of the global financial crisis. SMEs are a major source of job creation and a successful SME sector that generates decent jobs is key to sustainable economic development and effective poverty reduction.

“In many countries, including Indonesia, SMEs are at the heart of the economy, but they also face a lot of challenges,” said Peter Van Rooij. “Competition among SMEs is strong, there is pressure from the community and from legislation to be not only productive and competitive but also to comply with labour and environmental standards. That is why it is very important to sustain and support SMEs”.

“I think we need to support the SCORE programme. It is very important and it is needed by Indonesia’s SMEs,” said Sofjan Wanandi, Chairman of the Indonesia Employers Association (APINDO). “SMEs need to improve productivity, efficiency and competitiveness as well as collaboration between employers and workers in order to create better working conditions. SCORE will help Indonesia’s SMEs compete in national and international markets”.

A representative of trade unions, Sjukur Sarto, said that the SCORE programme would facilitate the needs of employers and workers. Speaking on behalf of the confederation of all Indonesia trade unions, he said he would like to see SCORE implemented throughout Indonesia.

Indonesia is one of seven countries participating in the SCORE programme, the others being China, Colombia, Ghana, India, Viet Nam and South Africa. In Indonesia, pilot activities have started in the auto parts sector, and will soon be expanded to include two other clusters.

The SCORE programme is built around five modules covering workplace cooperation, quality management, productivity and cleaner production, organizing people to be motivated and productive, and organizing the physical workplace to be safe and healthy.