Statement by H.E. Dr Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, President of the Republic of Indonesia, at the 100th International Labour Conference

Declaración | Geneva | 14 de junio de 2011

Bismillahirrahmanirrahim,Assalamu’alaikum warahmatullahi wabarakatuh,

Peace be upon us.

Your Excellency Mr. Juan Somavia, Director General of the International Labour Organization,

Your Excellency Mr. Robert Nkili, President of the 100th International Labour Conference,


Distinguished Delegates,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is a great honour for me, to be the first Indonesian President to address this distinguished forum of 100th International Labour Conference, and I bring you the warm greetings of the good people of Indonesia.

There is no issue more important to developing and developed countries today, than jobs.

For nations, jobs are the engine of development and progress. And for the individual, a job means more than a salary – it means dignity and self-esteem, and hope for a better future for his family. It makes him a stakeholder in the society.

Across the world, nations, communities, and corporations are struggling to achieve the twin objectives of creating jobs and promoting job security.

It is the primary task of governments and corporations to provide and protect jobs.

The ILO has been a champion in promoting job security. For almost a century now, the ILO has stood up for the rights of workers, and set the norms and standards for fair and equitable employment.

It has also developed a viable tripartite model, involving governments, employers, and workers.

The positive role of the ILO was demonstrated during the recent global financial crisis.

In Indonesia, when the global financial crisis began to hit us in 2008, the first thing that we did was to synchronize policies and actions, between the central Government, the local governments, the private sector and other parties.

Of the 7 national priorities that we set together, 3 pertained directly to job security for workers. First, we did everything possible to prevent lay offs; then we ensured the health of the real sector where most of the jobs were located; and finally we enacted special measures to achieve economic and employment objectives

We also engaged the labour unions and workers, to work together for our common interests, to keep the real sector running to avoid massive lay-offs. This cooperation and understanding worked quiet well. This is reflected in the fact that during 2008- 2009, out of 116 million workers only less than 0,05 % lost their jobs. Hence, among the countries of Asia and the rest of the world, Indonesia was one of those that were least affected by the crisis.

The lesson was that the Government, corporate world and the workers worked together, to minimize unemployment during a very difficult situation.

And throughout this whole process, the ILO was always helpful to us, especially in helping to forge the constructive consensus between the stake holders.

As a country that sends workers abroad, Indonesia also made a strong international appeal to employers to keep all their workers, in spite of the difficult times. And we closely coordinated with host countries, to ensure the continued employment of our migrant workers. I extend our gratitude to host Governments, who have tried their best to be helpful to migrant workers in their countries.

Indeed, the workers in the 21st century face the twin prospects of opportunity and risks.

On the one hand, the world’s capacity to produce goods and services—driven by tremendous advances in science and technology—has grown exponentially.

On the other hand, the world is constantly in the grips of simultaneous pressures – all of which affect the workers and the job-seekers.

Many of them have been distressed by wars and other forms of armed conflicts, which further disrupt economic activities.

Many have to deal with the repercussions of climate change, which affects productivity and creates economic dislocation.

Many have to adapt to technological changes, that have become so rapid that we can hardly keep up.

Today, some 205 million people are looking for work. The global unemployment rate stood at 6.2 per cent in 2010. The world simply does not yet have the capacity to absorb all the work forces into the market.

We are also witnessing the spectacle of massive labour migrations. Whether this is the result of the global economic crisis, or the consequence of turmoil in the Middle East and North Africa, it is a problem that must be urgently addressed. Meanwhile, even though the world is recovering from the recent economic crisis, its aftermath is still felt in many parts of the world.

These challenges will profoundly impact the global employment situation and the plight of workers everywhere. This calls for greater international cooperation, to address what are essentially local problems with global dimension.

What then must be done? What is the way forward? Let me suggest several measures.

First, we need to promote PRO-GROWTH, PRO-JOB, PRO-POOR development policies. In Indonesia, we call this “growth with equity” strategy.

We should not go after growth for the sake of growth. We should generate employment opportunities so that people can find decent jobs. One way to achieve this, is to increase the buying power of households, strengthen the resilience of the private sector, and promote investments.

Because most of the jobs are created in the private sector, in practical terms we also must promote pro-business policies. These policies encourage companies to grow and produce more jobs, to accommodate the growing army of job-seekers. We also need to promote more entrepreneurship, so that University graduates can become job-creators rather than job-seekers.

Second, job creation policies and strategies, must also be guided by a vision of sustainable development. They must be PRO-ENVIRONMENT.

In Indonesia, we intend to advance a national green skills development strategy. We plan to pursue a decentralized youth apprenticeship programme for green jobs, and take measures to foster entrepreneurship and self-employment in the green sector.

We will do all these, in close partnership with the private sector.

We also look forward to the involvement of ILO. Together, we should develop ideas on how we can address the challenge of climate change and the impact of global warming, on the employment situation.

Third, the dignity of work must be promoted and protected.

It is not enough that we provide jobs that ensure the workers’ daily subsistence. They and their children should be guaranteed a future. Decent jobs entail dignity, equality and a sense of prosperity. Dignity includes, among others, social security and social protection, adequate housing, as well as health and education benefits.

As labour is an actor and the driver of development, workers should be among the first beneficiaries of the development process. Policies and strategies should be developed, to ensure that they get their due share of the economic pie. Greater attention should be given to young workers, as they provide the bulk of the future labor force.

Fourth, development policies should provide opportunities for the workers to participate in democratic governance.

Democracy entails the participation of workers in the decision-making process, that affects their lives. To bring about such a democratic process, there should be continued dialogue between the government, employers, and workers for a win-win situation.

In this process, it is important to ensure a proper balance between the need to protect welfare of the workers, the imperative to promote their rights in democracy, and also the responsibility and obligation of the workers to maintain performance and productivity.

Fifth, there must be global cooperation to ensure that, the benefits of globalization are shared equitably.

Having the plight of workers in mind, we must find ways for greater coordination among related international forums, such as the ILO, UNCTAD, OECD, and the G-20.

We also need to enhance capacity-building, technology-transfer and innovation, through South-South Cooperation and Triangular Cooperation.

Sixth, many countries have ratified ILO conventions, but what is urgent now is the faithful implementation of these conventions.

We must see to it, that the eight ILO Fundamental Conventions are fully carried out, to ensure that workers enjoy social justice.

As has been said by Dr Somavia, Indonesia is the first Asian country, to ratify all of the eight ILO Fundamental Conventions. And I trust that, their ratification will speed up and intensify, the promotion and protection of the rights of Indonesian workers.

All these measures, I believe, will help to improve and shape the state of global employment.

It will serve not only the dignity of workers, but also the purposes of this Organization. As expressed in the preamble of the 1919 ILO Constitution, universal and lasting peace can be established only if it is based upon social justice.

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Another critical matter that we need to address as we embrace the new era of social justice is, the plight of MIGRANT WORKERS. It is estimated that there are 150 million documented migrant workers around the world. They are important players in this new era of social justice. We cannot ignore their contributions to the global labour market, as well as to the economies of their home countries. We in Indonesia call these migrant workers “economic heroes” (pahlawan devisa), due to their hard work and selfless devotion to the welfare of their family back home.

We must also support the ILO Convention on Decent Work for Domestic Workers, which I believe will be adopted by this Session of the International Labour Conference (ILC).

I believe that this Convention can provide guidance to the sending and the host governments, to protect migrant domestic workers. This is an important issue to Indonesia, because a relatively large portion of our migrant workers abroad are domestic workers.

We have therefore taken institutional, administrative and legal steps, to protect and empower our migrant workers.

My Government is intensifying cooperation with both domestic and foreign recruitment agencies, to ensure their safety of migration and also their protection in the host countries.

We have developed arrangements with host countries, to ensure that their rights are respected and protected, including their rights to minimum wage and days-off. We are also upgrading their knowledge and skills, that will make them a greater asset to their employers and contribute more to the host economies.

Those domestic workers who work within their own countries, must also be given the same protection.

Thus, this Convention will help us formulate effective national legislation and regulations for this purpose.

Also critical to the new era of social justice is the role of youth employment. With nearly half of the world’s population under the age of 25, young people can make an important contribution to the global prosperity. Yet, an ILO report shows that 81 million out of 620 million economically active 15 to 24-year-olds, were unemployed at the end of 2009. This is the highest recorded number since 1991.

We must therefore work together, to prevent the increasing unemployment among young people. We must invest more in sectors that generate jobs for youths. We must also work, towards a global coalition for youth employment.


Distinguished Delegates,

The global crisis has cost countries and communities too much, especially for the fate of the workers.

What the world urgently needs today is our unwavering commitment to improve the labor conditions. We cannot delay efforts to meet this need.

Now is the time to act and formulate change, for the future generation and for the next century.

Finally, let us work together, to bring about the best possible conditions for the workers of the world. Let us join hands, to make this a new era of social justice.

I thank you.