Trade unions that backed President Widodo’s election accuse him of ignoring them

CNN Indonesia – April 14, 2020
KSBSI workers march against Omnibus Law in Jakarta – Undated (Daily News Indonesia)

Jakarta – The Indonesian Confederation of Prosperity Labour Unions (KSBSI) is disappointed in President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo because the Draft Omnibus Law on Job Creation is still being deliberated by the House of Representatives (DPR) despite the corona virus epidemic.

KSBSI President Elly Rosita Silaban stated that they had supported Widodo during the last two presidential elections but their demand for the draft law to be dropped has not been heeded by the former Solo mayor and governor of Jakarta.

“We see that he doesn’t listen in the slightest to workers’ voices, despite the KSBSI and the KSPSI [Confederation of the All-Indonesian Workers Union] being [election] volunteers, and now we are asking for him to listen to workers’ complaints and appeals”, said Silaban when contacted by CNN Indonesia on Tuesday April 14.

Silaban said that President Widodo actually has the authority to revoke or at least stop the Omnibus Law deliberations during a crisis such as this. She believes that it is as if Widodo has closed his eyes to the issue. Yet, said Silaban, the millions of workers and ordinary people who are suffering during this crisis are more important than the Omnibus Law.

“We’re just asking for it not to be deliberated right now when we’re being asked to WFH [work from home] and there’s PSBB [large scale social restrictions] and physical distancing. Just focus on handling Covid-19 and how to recover from it”, she said.

Indonesian Trade Union Congress Alliance Confederation (KASBI) Chairperson Nining Elitos also said that she deplores President Widodo’s failure to take any steps to stop the Draft Omnibus Law.

“Indeed, this was a presidential instruction. The president should understand that from the beginning many groups opposed the Omnibus Law. Why in this situation is it being forced through? Meaning they’re taking advantage [of the corona virus epidemic] to smooth it through”, Elitos told CNN Indonesia on Tuesday.

Elitos believes that the government and the DPR are insensitive about the ordinary people’s difficulties. Moreover many workers have lost their jobs because of the economic crises caused by the corona pandemic.

She is asking that the Omnibus Law deliberations be stopped because workers have already postponed protest actions in order to respect policies to maintain social distancing to break the chain of infections.

“The DPR [should] focus on handling the Covid-19 pandemic, stopping mass sackings”, she said.

Meanwhile Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras) Coordinator Yati Andriyani stated that the DPR has seized the opportunity to force through the Omnibus Law deliberations in the midst of a health emergency caused by the corona virus.

“The DPR and the government’s ambition to continue the Draft Job Creation (Omnibus) in the midst of the Covid-19 crisis reaffirms that the DPR is not working for the ordinary people”, said Andriyani in a written press release.

The deliberations on the Omnibus Law, she said, have the potential to make the ordinary people even angrier.

“Right now the people are finding it difficult just to find food, the people’s lives are under threat because of Covid-19, don’t again let the DPR worsen the situation by ignoring the people’s wishes. This is very likely to make the people even angrier”, she said.

Andriyani is asking the DPR to put aside its legislative function and said that the DPR should focus instead on control and oversight of the government’s handling of Covid-19.

The DPR’s legislative body held a meeting to discuss the Draft Omnibus Law on Job Creation today. Eleven ministers led by the Coordinating Minister for the Economy were invited to explain the draft law.

The Draft Omnibus law was an initiative of President Widodo as a way to attract foreign investment, although it has attracted widespread opposition because it contains articles which will harm workers. (dhf, ryn/wis)

[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was “Serikat Buruh Pro Jokowi Kecewa Omnibus Law Masih Dibahas”.]