Labour rally in Bandung says ‘Omnibus Law more dangerous than Corona’

CNN Indonesia – March 16, 2020
Workers protesting against Omnibus Law in front of governor’s office – March 16, 2020 (CNN)

Bandung – Workers from the All West Java Labour Alliance held a demonstration against the Draft Omnibus Law on Job Creation in front of the Sate Building (governor’s office) in the West Java provincial capital of Bandung on Monday March 16.

The protesters were ignoring a request by the West Java provincial government to restrict activities involving large numbers of people in order to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

West Java Indonesian Prosperity Trade Union (SBS) Chairperson Ajat Sudrajat claimed that the Omnibus Law is more dangerous than the coronavirus. Because of this they said, protest actions against the Omnibus Law will continue so that it’s not ratified into law.

“In fact the Omnibus Law is more important than corona because it will become a law which will impact on our families, our grandchildren”, said Sudrajat.

As has been reported, Governor Ridwan Kamil has restricted activities involving large crowds in West Java in order to anticipate the spread of the virus.

Related to this, Sudrajat said that protest actions are regulated under Law Number 9/1998 on Freedom of Expression in Public and, he continued, this law has a higher authority than a gubernatorial appeal.

“If we don’t voice [our opposition], although it is with great risk given the spread of corona, the Omnibus Law is far more dangerous. The virus should not be responded to with excessive fears, we are fighting while safeguarding health”, he said.

West Java Indonesian Trade Union Confederation (KSPI) Chairperson Roy Jinto said that the demonstration is expected to be joined by around 15,000 workers from 27 cities and regencies in West Java. The workers are demanding that Kamil and his administration support workers in this.

“So today we are asking for a similar statement from the governor and the DPRD [Regional House of Representatives] rejecting the Omnibus Law and that this be conveyed to the central government”, said Jinto.

Jinto said that today’s protest action would be followed by more protests leading up to a major rally in Jakarta on March 23. These will be articulating the same thing, namely rejecting the Omnibus Law.

“Workers and the public already understand that the Omnibus Law is dangerous. If it is ratified structural poverty will occur and it is possible that UMK [municipal and regency minimum wages] and UMP [provincial minimum wages] will decline”, said Jinto.

The Draft Omnibus Law on Job Creation has attracted criticism from a number of groups including trade unions as well as non-government organisations (NGOs) that are concerned with environmental conservation.

Trade unions around the country believe that the Omnibus Law sides with investors and will harm workers. NGOs believe that the draft law has the potential to cause environmental damage.

Kamil meanwhile has already said that they will restrict public activities and claimed to be coordinating this with the police.

“If (the risk of spreading the virus) is big it won’t be allowed. If it’s small and can be measured and efforts can be made to anticipate it [then it’s okay]”, said Kamil as quoted by CNN Indonesia TV on Sunday March 15. (hyg/bmw)

[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was “Buruh Demo di Bandung: Omnibus Law Lebih Bahaya dari Corona”.]