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Jakarta Post

Students, workers take to streets in Yogyakarta to say no to omnibus job creation bill

  • Bambang Muryanto

    The Jakarta Post

Yogyakarta   /   Mon, March 9, 2020   /   09:09 pm
Students, workers take to streets in Yogyakarta to say no to omnibus job creation bill Hundreds of students, workers and artists grouped under People’s Movement Alliance gathered on March 9 to hold a “grand meeting” on the streets in Yogyakarta to stop the deliberation of the controversial job creation omnibus bill. (Antara/Andreas Fitri Atmoko )

Hundreds of students, workers and artists grouped under the People’s Movement Alliance gathered on Monday to hold a “grand meeting” on the streets to stop the deliberation of the controversial omnibus bill on job creation.

“We are here as the people’s parliament to announce our motion of no confidence in the House of Representatives because they fail to represent the interests of the people who reject the [job creation omnibus bill],” the alliance spokesperson, Syahdan, said on Monday.

The omnibus bill on job creation would amend 73 laws and consists of 15 chapters and 174 articles

The protesters gathered on Jl. Gejayan, a historical street that has witnessed many popular protests. The most recent was the Gejayan Calling movement or #GejayanMemanggil, where thousands of people protested against the revisions to the Corruption Eradication Commission Law and the Criminal Code.

They set up a stage and played music as well as taking turns to deliver speeches. Despite the rain that began to fall the protestors remained, carrying banners with messages like “Stop the omnibus law”, referring to the job creation bill, and “Investment regime: It only acknowledges the people during elections”.

Workers, students and activists claim the omnibus bill on job creation will harm democracy, the environment and the interests of workers.

“If the government fails to listen to the people’s voice in Yogyakarta and other areas, we will come to Jakarta,” Syahdan continued.

The secretary of the Federation of Independent Workers Unions in Yogyakarta and Central Java, Ali Prasetyo, said on Monday that the workers rejected the job creation bill because it significantly relaxed outsourcing restrictions. He said the regulation would make employees “contract workers all their life”.

He also rejected the article that allowed provincial governors to create their own formulations to calculate the minimum wage.

The job creation bill has also drawn criticism from students in Gadjah Mada University (UGM) in Yogyakarta. In a discussion last month, legal experts concluded that the process of drafting the bill was “not transparent”. They pointed out that the content of the bill did not reflect the rationale of the bill.

“Illegal levies and red tape are common practices in Indonesia. Even though we have good regulations, in reality they should not be able to be implemented. Don’t think investors will come because the government streamlines the regulations,” said Maria S.W Sumardjono from the UGM School of Law on Feb. 13.

She said the omnibus job creation bill could offer only empty promises to investors because in reality they will have to deal with natural resources regulations. She said there were at least 26 regulations concerning natural resources that would need to be ironed out.

“Investors could come here, get a location permit, but later it gets revoked because an indigenous community claims the land,” she went on.

She said the job creation bill could infringe the rights of indigenous people.

Another legal expert, Zainal Arifin Mochtar, said he found problems in the academic document of the bill. He said people’s participation was essential in the drafting of such a bill, which revised more than 70 bills. “It has to come from social analysis,” he said.

He said the bill seemed to be prioritizing the economic and investment agenda while in the past, during the New Order, focusing only on the economy and investment had ended up damaging the environment and human rights.

He also criticized the process by which the government only talked with businesspeople in formulating the bill. “We’d be better to reject this bill altogether because the deliberation in the House can also only be swayed by power,” he said.