The Jakarta Post
Hundreds of workers in Medan city and Deli Serdang regency in North Sumatra staged rallies on Tuesday demanding the dissolution of the Social Security Management Agency for the health sector (BPJS Kesehatan) in protest at what they claim is poor service.
Workers from both regions in North Sumatra demanded the government reinstate the state-owned insurance firm Jamsostek as they said its services were better than BPJS Kesehatan.
The rallies, involving various organizations, took place separately. In Medan, the rally was concentrated at Medan City Hall, while in Deli Serdang it was at the Lubuk Pakam BPJS office.
Both rallies passed off peacefully despite sweeps of factories by protesting workers in the Tanjung Morawa industrial area in Deli Serdang urging workers to join the rally. The sweeps, which took place from 9 to 10 a.m. local time, met little resistance from factory owners, who instead allowed their workers to join the rally, thus boosting numbers.
After the sweeps, the workers advanced to the Lubuk Pakam BPJS office where they voiced their complaints over the poor BPJS Kesehatan services. They claimed the BPJS Kesehatan system had failed to improve the well being of workers.
'The money at BPJS is not yours but the workers' money. Dissolve the BPJS Kesehatan because it is of no benefit to workers,' the workers exclaimed in front of the office.
No BPJS representative was willing to respond to the protest, thus provoking the workers' anger. However, police were on standby to secure the rally and no disturbance occurred.
Meanwhile, BPJS Lubuk Pakam head Heni Riswanti promised to improve services. 'If they want to dissolve the BPJS, they should change the law,' Heni told reporters after the workers left the office.
Separately, the protest against the BPJS Kesehatan in Medan was received by the Medan municipal administration. Municipal secretary Saiful Bahri invited worker representatives to discuss the issues faced by workers.
Workers' representative Adiono said the current labor issues were more complicated, especially regarding workers' welfare.
Adiono added that the minimum wage received by workers had not provided them with a sense of wellbeing. Ironically, he said, the issue was further aggravated by the policy of issuing a new regulation regarding the BPJS Kesehatan.
According to Adiono, the BPJS Kesehatan has provided a very poor service to workers. He expressed the complaints of workers, such as public hospitals being less optimal in rendering services to workers.
'If this continues, we'd prefer Jamsostek because the BPJS is poor at providing proper treatment,' said Adiono.
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