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Jakarta Post

Labor unions protest Jokowi's omnibus bill

  • Adrian Wail Akhlas

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Thu, January 9, 2020   /   05:48 pm
Labor unions protest Jokowi's omnibus bill Approximately 100 protesters, representing about 20 labor groups within the Jakarta Labor Movement (GBJ), marched on the streets of Tanjung Priok port in North Jakarta on Thursday in response to the government's plan to reform labor regulations. (JP/Adrian Wail Akhlas)

A Jakarta labor alliance went on strike on Thursday to protest the government’s omnibus bill on job creation, fearing it would deprive workers of their rights and would benefit only investors and employers. 

Approximately 100 protesters, representing about 20 labor groups within the Jakarta Labor Movement (GBJ), marched on the streets of Tanjung Priok port in North Jakarta in response to the government's plan to reform current labor regulations. The changes are expected to involve severance pay, working hours and minimum wage, among other points.

“We are suspicious that the omnibus bill will bring about a flexible labor market by depriving workers of their basic rights, including the reduction of severance pay and a proposal on wage calculations based on working hours,” said GBJ spokesperson Jumisih during the protest.

The omnibus bill on job creation, she added, would threaten workers as it would allow employers to “hire outsourced workers without giving them certainty” for a longer time than the current regulation stipulates. 

“Workers will be forced to work without certainty because the bill will make them more vulnerable to layoffs and outsourcing. These patterns of modern exploitation will make workers’ wages far from decent,” she said.

The government plans to address issues related to foreign workers, severance pay, minimum wage and working hours deemed unfavorable to investors in the omnibus bill on job creation, according to several high-ranking officials.

President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo instructed his ministers on Monday to finish the draft of the omnibus bill on job creation next week.

Jumisih added that the government had skirted the democratic process in formulating the bill, adding that “workers’ main enemy is the regulation that hampers the fight for prosperity”.

“The formulation process of this bill is being conducted behind closed doors and does not take into account the public’s perspective,” she added.

The job creation bill will address 11 issues, including simpler licensing procedures and labor and land procurement, as part of a broader effort to improve competitiveness.

According to the World Bank’s ease of doing business index, which ranked Indonesia 73rd, the country’s rigid employment and minimum wage regulations are among the factors causing the country’s stagnating rank.

“Strict employment protection legislation shapes firms’ incentives to enter and exit the economy, which in turn has implications for job creation and economic growth […] a 10 percentage-point increase in the minimum wage in Indonesia was associated with a 0.8-percentage point decrease in employment on average,” the report reads.