Indonesians rally against ‘omnibus’ jobs law

Thousands protest braving tear gas against new law that trade unions say undermines labour rights and weakens environmental protections.

8 Oct 2020

Nationwide protests and labour strikes against a polarising new jobs law in Indonesia continued across the country for a third straight day on Thursday.

The “omnibus” jobs-creation bill, passed into law on Monday, has seen thousands of people in Southeast Asia’s largest economy take to the streets in protest against legislation they say undermines labour rights and weakens environmental protections.

In the past two days, nearly 600 people have been detained, and two students seriously injured, while police have used tear gas and water cannon to disperse demonstrators.

On Thursday morning, crowds gathered across major cities on the most populous Java island, including Jakarta and Bandung, according to local media and video footage shared by Kahar S Cahyono, a spokesman from the Confederation of Indonesian Workers’ Union (KSPI).

“We ask that the law be repealed immediately,” said Maulana Syarif, 45, who has worked at Astra Honda motors for 25 years, and joined the protests in Jakarta to fight for the rights of future generations.

“This is our struggle for our children and grandchildren and our future generations…If it’s like this (with the new law) our wellbeing will decrease, and we will lack certainty in jobs.”

In conjunction with 32 other trade unions, Said Iqbal, KSPI president, said its strike would continue for a third and final day on Thursday.

The government of President Joko Widodo has championed the flagship legislation as key to boosting Indonesia’s ailing economy by streamlining regulations, cutting red tape and attracting more foreign direct investment.

Met with cautious optimism by some financial analysts, the bill has sparked a significant outcry, with labour unions, students and academics criticising it for a perceived lack of consultation, expedited passage, and problematic clauses they say will harm workers and the environment.

Police officers disperse student protesters in Cikarang, West Java. [AP Photo/Septian]
Police officers disperse student protesters in Cikarang, West Java. [AP Photo/Septian]
Two students have been seriously injured in the past two days of protests. [Dita Alangkara/AP Photo]
Two students have been seriously injured in the past two days of protests. [Dita Alangkara/AP Photo]
Protesters say the “omnibus” jobs creation bill, passed into law on Monday, undermines labour rights and weakens environmental protections. [Willy Kurniawan/Reuters]
Protesters say the “omnibus” jobs creation bill, passed into law on Monday, undermines labour rights and weakens environmental protections. [Willy Kurniawan/Reuters]
The government has championed the flagship legislation as key to boosting Indonesia’s ailing economy. [Fauzan/Antara Foto via Reuters]
The government has championed the flagship legislation as key to boosting Indonesia’s ailing economy. [Fauzan/Antara Foto via Reuters]
The bill has sparked a significant outcry, with labour unions, students and academics criticising it. [Fajrin Raharjo/AFP]
The bill has sparked a significant outcry, with labour unions, students and academics criticising it. [Fajrin Raharjo/AFP]
Plain-clothes police detain a protester in Tangerang. [Fajrin Raharjo/AFP]
Plain-clothes police detain a protester in Tangerang. [Fajrin Raharjo/AFP]
Nearly 600 people have been detained during the protests. [Bay Ismoyo/AFP]
Nearly 600 people have been detained during the protests. [Bay Ismoyo/AFP]
A student holds a sign reading "the motherland is on stand-up comedy" during protests in Tangerang. [Fajrin Raharjo/AFP]
A student holds a sign reading “the motherland is on stand-up comedy” during protests in Tangerang. [Fajrin Raharjo/AFP]
0 0 vote
Article Rating
Subscribe
Notify of
guest
0 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
0
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x
()
x
Copy link
Powered by Social Snap