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Jakarta Post

Workers to protest omnibus bill as companies continue with business as usual

  • Ghina Ghaliya
    Ghina Ghaliya

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Wed, April 22, 2020   /   08:34 am
Workers to protest omnibus bill as companies continue with business as usual Activists and members of the United People's Alliance (ARB) rally in opposition to the omnibus bill on job creation on Jl. Gejayan in Sleman regency, Yogyakarta, on March 9. (Antara/Andreas Fitri Atmoko )

Labor unions will march on with their plans to hold mass protests against the omnibus bill on job creation, as many workplaces are still requiring non-essential employees to work as usual despite the large-scale social restrictions (PSBB) implemented by several regional administrations.

The Confederation of Indonesian Trade Unions (KSPI), one of Indonesia’s largest labor groups, said it would not cancel plans to hold rallies in front of the House of Representatives or the Coordinating Economic Minister’s office in Jakarta on April 30 – one day prior to May Day.

"We’ve notified the police. According to regulations, rallygoers only need to submit a notification letter to the police rather than securing a permit,” KSPI spokesperson Kahar S. Cahyono said on Tuesday.

The Jakarta Police previously said they would stop all May Day rallies, saying such gatherings would violate PSBB regulations meant to curb the spread of COVID-19.

Kahar argued that many companies and factories were continuing to operate, forcing their employees to work during the outbreak in violation of the policy.

“If the police will arrest us for holding a rally, they should also arrest the employers who are forcing us to work and not complying with the PSBB policy,” he said.

Read also: Omnibus bill on job creation: Labor articles to be discussed last amid public protests

PSBB regulations require all workplaces to stop operating and have employees work from home. The policy, however, does not apply to workplaces belonging to what have been deemed essential sectors: finance, fuel, food, medicine, retail, water, communications and logistics.

According to the KSPI, dozens of companies outside of the aforementioned sectors are still operating.

COVID-19 task force chief Doni Monardo has urged all stakeholders, especially business owners, to comply with the regulations and follow the work-from-home policy to make PSBB effective. Authorities believe office and factory activity would lead to packed public transportation and would undermine PSBB.

The National Welfare Movement (Gekanas), another labor group, has affirmed its plan to join the KSPI rally on April 30. Its leader Indra Munaswar said about 35,000 workers from industrial areas around Jakarta were expected to participate.

However, some labor groups, such as the Inter-Factory Laborers Federation (FBLP) and the All-Indonesia United Workers Confederation (KPBI), have canceled their plans to take to the streets despite the anger.

Instead of joining street rallies, the two groups have prepared alternatives that include both virtual campaigns and crowdfunding activities to help those vulnerable to the disease and its economic fallout.

"We've increasingly felt ignored by authorities because the House and the government have agreed to deliberate the disputed bill. There is also no strict policy towards employers who are still forcing us to work as usual without proper protective equipment," said FBLP chairwoman Jumisih.