Women workers in Bandung demand extended pregnancy leave

Kompas.com – March 8, 2013
International Women's Day rally in Bandung - March 8, 2013 (Merdeka)
International Women's Day rally in Bandung - March 8, 2013 (Merdeka)

Putra Prima Perdana, Bandung – Commemorating International Women’s Day (IWD) 2013, some 150 workers, the majority of which were women from the Independent Trade Union Federation (FSPM) and the Bango Soy Sauce Independent Trade Union, held a protest action in the West Java provincial capital of Bandung on Friday March 8.

The demonstrators demanded that all companies that employ women provide and increase the length of pregnancy leave, from three to six months.

“Giving birth is the right of all women, but there are still many companies that discriminate. Because of this we are demanding that all companies not only provide three months of pregnancy leave, but six months. Two months before and two months after giving birth”, said SPMKB Women’s Committee Coordinator Euis Tita Kurniawan when speaking with Kompas during a break in the action in front of the Gedung Sate building (governor’s office) on Jl. Diponegoro.

Law Number 13/2013 on Labour regulates a pregnancy leave of only three months, but International Labour Organisation (ILO) Convention Number 183/2000 in fact states that pregnancy leave for working women should be 14 weeks.

In many ways, continued Kurniawan, women often encounter discrimination in the work place, such as equal rights and wage disparities.

In addition to the issue of pregnancy leave, the workers who arrived at the demonstration on foot also took up the problems of widespread exploitation and sexual harassment against women.

“We want to raise the dignity and rank of women. As we know, women are still the object of exploitation and that there is also widespread sexual harassment in the workplace. At this moment we hope, that in the future the West Java governor elect will at the very least provide legal protection to women”, she asserted.

Based on data provided by the groups, Indonesia’s population currently stands at 237,641,326. Out of this total, 49.7 percent are women, or as many as 118,010,413. “So accordingly, they should have a role that is equal to that of men”, said Kurniawan.

[Demo, Buruh Tuntut Cuti Hamil Jadi Empat Bulan – Kompas.com. Jumat, 8 Maret 2013. Translated by James Balowski.]