Police in Greater Jakarta have reportedly thwarted an attempt by workers to conduct a rally in front of the House of Representatives complex in Senayan, Jakarta, to protest the passing of the controversial omnibus bill on job creation into law on Monday.
Hundreds of workers grouped under the Banten chapter of the Indonesian Metal Workers Federation (FSPMI) said they were stranded on roads as the police blocked their access to the capital, citing the large-scale social restrictions (PSBB) enacted to curb COVID-19 transmission in the city as a reason.
“If the government and the House didn’t force through the omnibus bill in the middle of a pandemic, then of course laborers wouldn’t insist on holding a rally,” FSPMI protest coordinator Mubarok said on Monday as quoted by kompas.com.
Scores of other workers from Bekasi, West Java, were also prevented from entering Jakarta by police and military personnel.
Those who managed to reach the compound were ordered to disperse.
Mubarok, who received direct reports from protesters in Jakarta, said that some of the rally participants were even forced to leave the compound by the police personnel who “transported them to a nearby railway station” to return back home, as reported by kompas.com.
At least 5 million workers planned a national strike from Tuesday to Thursday this week, when the House was previously expected to hold plenary sessions to pass the bill into law.
But the House decided to fast-track the final stage of the bill’s deliberation by moving the vote to Monday, concurrently with the House speaker’s closing speech for the first session of the 2020-2021 term.
The lawmakers and government had been holding meetings, even on weekends, to expedite the deliberation process.
In response, some labor unions decided to start the demonstrations earlier. Suparno, the chairman of the Bekasi chapter of the FSPMI, previously said around 5,000 workers from the region would join the demonstration on Monday.
Jakarta Police spokesperson Sr. Comr. Yusri Yunus said the police did not grant the protesters permission to conduct protests due to the PSBB. “Jakarta is in a health emergency. Do not add new clusters of COVID-19 transmission,” he said in a statement on Monday. (vny)