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Jakarta Post

Tangerang police arrest 11 union members over alleged incitement during omnibus protest

  • Eisya A. Eloksari

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Wed, March 4, 2020   /   06:18 pm
Tangerang police arrest 11 union members over alleged incitement during omnibus protest Members of the Indonesian Workers Union Confederation demonstrate against the omnibus bill on job creation in front of the House of Representatives in Central Jakarta on Jan 20. (JP/Moch. Fiqih Prawira)

The Tangerang regency police have taken 11 labor union members into custody for alleged incitement during protests over the omnibus bill on job creation.

Congress Alliance of Indonesian Labor Unions (KASBI) chairwoman Nining Elitos told The Jakarta Post that two of the detainees were KASBI administrators, namely Joe, also known as Imron, and Siswoyo.  

Read also: Labor unions protest Jokowi's omnibus bill

Seven of the 11 union members are KASBI members and the remaining two are members of the All-Indonesia Workers’ Union (SPSI).

“They were picked up by the police between 1 a.m. and 3 a.m. when they were coming home from the night shift at their respective workplaces,” the chairwoman said over the phone.

She said the police suspected them of “provocation” during several labor union protests against the omnibus bill on job creation.

According to Article 160 of the Criminal Code (KUHP), the arrested union members could face up to six years in prison if found guilty of incitement.

Read also: Key points of labor reform in omnibus bill on job creation: What we know so far

Nining has called for the police to release the 11 union members and not to arrest more labor union members for provocation to avoid further “social disturbance”.

“The arrests were arbitrary,” she added. “It happened in the middle of the night as if they were corruption suspects.”

At the time of reporting, the KASBI advocacy team and union leaders are in mediation with the Tangerang Regency police.

The police did not immediately respond to the Post’s request for an interview.

On Feb. 17, an unknown group of people staged a protest without any prior notice at the KASBI secretariat in Pulo Gadung district, East Jakarta.

The protesters spoke briefly spoke about the omnibus bill before they started burning tires and demanding KASBI be dissolved, according to Nining.

“This is an act of terror against our unions. We believe that this [protest] occurred because of our stance on the omnibus bill,” she said on Feb. 17.

The government considers the bill on job creation essential for attracting foreign investment to help improve economic growth and boost the nation's ease of doing business. If passed, the omnibus bill would amend about 1,200 articles in more than 80 prevailing laws.

Read also: Guide to omnibus bill on job creation: 1,028 pages in 10 minutes

Workers, however, have been campaigning firmly against the bill, having held demonstrations since January. They rejected the omnibus bill after rumors surfaced that it would reduce severance payments, enforce an hourly pay system to replace the minimum wage and eliminate sanctions against companies that failed to provide health insurance.

The government has formed a consultative team consisting of government officials, businesspeople and labor representatives to discuss the bill.

However, major labor groups including the KASBI, the Confederation of Indonesian Trade Unions (KSPI) and the All-Indonesia Workers Union Confederation (KSPSI) have declined to join the coordination team.