Workers to rally against ‘labour reform’ during Jokowi’s state address

CNN Indonesia – August 13, 2019
Placard reads ‘Reject the Free Market’ (KBR)
Placard reads ‘Reject the Free Market’ (KBR)

Jakarta – The United People’s Labour Movement (Gebrak) plans to hold a demonstration during the annual session of the People’s Consultative Assembly (MPR) at the parliamentary complex in Jakarta on Friday August 16.

Gebrak will voice its opposition to planned revisions to the Labour Law when President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo gives his state of the nation address.

Akbar Rewako, an official from the National Labour Movement Centre (SGBN) which is under the umbrella of Gebrak, says they will be bringing in workers from outside Jakarta.

“Correct, Jabodetabek [Greater Jakarta workers] will be augmented by Bandung [West Java], we will specifically target the DPR [House of Representatives] and the MPR. We estimate there will be around 5 thousand workers”, said Rewako when contacted by CNN Indonesia on Tuesday August 13.

Rewako said that the planned revisions to the Labour Law (UU 13/2003) are ridden with the interests of employers. There are several points that workers object to related to wages, working hour flexibility and reducing severance pay for employees who are sacked.

“One of the requests employers have made to the government is over severance pay. We read this as meaning or suspect this means that severance pay will be abolished. Abolished or reduced it will clearly harm workers”, he said.

The government’s planned revisions to Law Number 13/2003 on Labour will also regulate working hours for employees so they will be more flexible. Rewako believes that workers will end up working longer hours if the law is revised.

“So, working hours will become even more flexible. Currently the 7-8 hour working day will be revised to be more flexible to keep pace with the 4.0 revolution. This means workers will work longer at the behest of employers”, said Rewako.

Confederation of United Indonesian Workers (KPBI) Chairperson Ilhamsyah says that the planned demonstration will represent an initial warning to the DPR and the administration of President Widodo not to revise the Labour Law. If they do not heed the warning, there will be even more opposition from workers.

“If as it turns out the Jokowi government revises the UU 13/2003 it will be the same as awakening a sleeping tiger for the working class because these revisions threaten all employees, including permanent workers who up until now have been safe”, he said accusingly.

There are a number of organisations aside from KPBI and SGBN that are part of the Gebrak alliance including the Indonesian Trade Union Congress Alliance (KASBI), the National Trade Union Confederation (KSN), the Indonesian Dock Workers Federation (FPPI), the Banking Trade Union Communication Network and Progressive School Students.

Also part of the alliance is the Indonesian Seafarers Movement, the Media and Creative Industries Trade Union for Democracy (Sindikasi), the Indonesian Public Health Association (AKMI), Perempuan Mahardhika (Free women), the Indonesian Student League for Democracy National Committee (LMND-DN) and the Agrarian Reform Consortium (KPA). (ryn/ugo)

[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was “Buruh Bakal Demo Saat Jokowi Pidato Kenegaraan 16 Agustus”.]