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Jakarta Post

Job Creation Law rolls back economic, sociocultural rights: Activists

  • Alya Nurbaiti

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Wed, October 7, 2020   /   08:35 pm
Job Creation Law rolls back economic, sociocultural rights: Activists Anger in the streets: Thousands of protesters from various organizations hold a demonstration in front of the House of Representatives building in Senayan, Central Jakarta in July to demand that lawmakers cancel their deliberation of the omnibus bill on job creation. (JP/Wendra Ajistyatama)

Labor, environmental and human rights activists have spoken out against the recently passed omnibus law on job creation, saying it rolls back social protection and may violate international human rights agreements.

Amnesty International Indonesia deputy director Ary Hermawan said the omnibus law was very regressive and breached non-retrogression principle of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR).

“The government must not allow the protection of existing economic, social and cultural rights to deteriorate, but the prevailing laws are even more progressive than the Job Creation Law,” Ary said in a public discussion on Tuesday.

Ary said the provisions on working hours in the omnibus law meant that companies could force employees in certain sectors to work beyond the “reasonable maximum working hours”, while overtime might not be paid as there was no longer any obligation to do so.

All-Indonesia United Workers Confederation (KPBI) deputy head Jumisih said the law “dehumanized” workers by extending the maximum overtime to 18 hours from 14 hours a week in Article 78 and scrapping the mandatory two-day weekend in Article 79.

“The omnibus law also relaxes outsourcing requirements, while removing protection for outsourced employees,” Jumisih said. 

Ary also said public participation in the deliberation of the bill had been inadequate, which violated Article 25 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Right guaranteeing every citizen the right to take part in public affairs, either directly or through representatives.

“The House holding the last meeting on the weekend and passing the bill into law earlier [on Monday] than scheduled [on Thursday] is a betrayal of public trust,” he said.

Roy Jinto of the West Java All-Indonesian Workers Confederation Union (KSPIS) and secretary-general of the Alliance of Indigenous Peoples of the Archipelago (AMAN) Rukka Sombolinggi echoed Ary’s comments, claiming that, from the beginning, labor organizations and the indigenous peoples had not been included in the deliberation process.

“We learned about the draft only after it was submitted to the House in February. They later invited [labor unions] for discussions, but that was no more than a formality; we could not change the substance,” Roy said. Rukka, meanwhile, said the government had never consulted indigenous people on the matter.

Rukka also pointed out controversial articles of the law related to environmental issues. According to the omnibus law’s amendments to Article 26 of Law 32/2009, for example, environmental experts will no longer be involved in environmental impact analyses.

Rukka said such provisions would exacerbate the threats indigenous communities face in trying to safeguard their land.

“Even without the omnibus law, many violations have occurred. Now, with the increased threat of land-grabbing, other threats will follow, such as the criminalization of indigenous people and indigenous people losing their livelihoods in the forests, which is ironic, considering that it is called the Job Creation Law,” she said.

Ary called on the government and the House of Representatives to revise the problematic articles in the omnibus law, while Trade Union Rights Center (TURC) executive director Andriko Otang said labor unions were ready to petition the Constitutional Court to revoke the law.

“Labor unions have made a commitment that, if the job creation bill is passed, we will request a judicial review together,” he said. “The fight is not over.”