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Jakarta Post

Labor groups plan nationwide rallies against jobs bill as deliberation continues

  • Tri Indah Oktavianti

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Thu, July 16, 2020   /   06:45 am
Labor groups plan nationwide rallies against jobs bill as deliberation continues Members of the United People's Alliance (ARB) hold rally in Gejayan, Sleman, Yogyakarta, on March 9 to express their rejection of the omnibus bill on job creation. (Antara/Andreas Fitri Atmoko )

Labor groups and activists are planning to take to the streets to protest the omnibus bill on job creation, which is currently under deliberation at the House of Representatives in a process the government hopes to conclude by early September.

The Confederation of Indonesian Trade Unions (KSPI) announced on Tuesday a plan to hold massive nationwide rallies against the bill early next month, claiming that hundreds of thousands of workers across the country were willing to participate.

"The KSPI is currently [coordinating] the matter with other labor groups to hold a nationwide massive protest in early August," KSPI president Said Iqbal said.

He added that labor groups from several regions, including Banten, West Java, Central Java, East Java, South Kalimantan and Lampung, had confirmed their participation. Meanwhile, the protest in Greater Jakarta would be concentrated around the House of Representatives building in Central Jakarta.

Apart from the omnibus bill, labor groups would also protest the wave of employment termination during the COVID-19 pandemic, Said went on to say.

Previously, the KSPI and several other labor groups reportedly walked out from the technical team formed by the Manpower Ministry to discuss the labor section of the omnibus bill following mounting demands to involve those groups in the bill’s deliberation. 

The team also includes representatives of business associations, including the Indonesian Employers Association (Apindo) and the Indonesian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Kadin), which reportedly turned down the labor groups' demands in the bill.

Read also: Govt expects deliberations on job creation omnibus bill to finish in August

The omnibus bill, which contains 15 chapters and 174 articles on more than 1,000 pages and seeks to revise 79 prevailing laws and more than 1,200 articles, is expected to be fully deliberated by the end of July. Coordinating Economic Minister Airlangga Hartarto said lawmakers had finished deliberating "half of the chapters" in the draft.

Opposition to the omnibus bill has been rising recently as religious minority groups and human rights defenders joined the campaign by arguing the bill would promote further discrimination and other human rights violations against minorities.

A coalition including the Indigenous Peoples Alliance of the Archipelago (AMAN), the traditional faith group Sunda Wiwitan and the Indonesian Legal Aid Foundation (YLBHI) particularly condemned Article 82 of the bill, which grants the police the authority to prevent and contain the propagation of beliefs that are deemed to be undermining national unity. 

"Such a provision can be misused to limit the rights of religious minorities. It would only preserve years of stigma, alienation, discrimination and human rights violation against the minorities," the coalition wrote in a statement on Tuesday.

A group consisting 104 clerics from various churches across the country also expressed opposition to the omnibus bill, calling the deliberation "undemocratic".

"The deliberation is undemocratic, as it precludes public participation. The bill only prioritizes the interests of corporations rather than society and the environment," the group’s spokesperson, Adventus Nadapdap, said in a statement on Tuesday.

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

The group highlighted Article 19 of the bill, which allows companies with permits to use coastal areas for business activities without environmental impact considerations. "That would destroy the ecosystem of coastal area, the sea and small islands. Furthermore, it would disturb residents living in coastal areas."

Adventus went on to say that the bill would lead to the criminalization of farmers, workers, urban poor and fishermen voicing their opinions against corporations and investors.

With the country facing an economic crisis due to the COVID-19 pandemic, President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo is pushing for the omnibus bill to be passed to propel economic activity by attracting more investment to the country.