Workers call on government to pay attention to working women at IWD in Jakarta

CNN Indonesia – March 8, 2022
KASBI workers commemorate International Women's Day in Jakarta – March 8, 2022 (Antara)

Jakarta – Workers from the Indonesian Trade Union Congress Alliance Confederation (KASBI) urged the government to pay attention to working women during a commemoration of International Women's Day (IWD) on Tuesday March 8.

The KASBI workers, who joined with the Women's Labour Alliance, took to the streets to hold an action in front of the parliamentary complex in Central Jakarta on Tuesday afternoon.

"The rights of women workers are only on paper, and are further undermined by the many mischievous employers and state supervision which is still weak", said KASBI Chairperson Nining Elitos.

Elitos said that women workers are still sacrificed by low wages through wage discrimination in labour intensive jobs such as in the textile, garment and footwear sectors. Yet, she added, these commodities are key exports and contribute to foreign exchange.

In addition to this, Elitos said that women workers are the group which suffers most from contract labour systems and outsourcing, as well as the practice of low wages. It is easy to sack women workers if they become pregnant or give birth.

The KASBI also criticised industries which fail to pay attention to the reproductive health of women workers.

Furthermore, she said that the situation has become even worse for workers since the government enacted the all encompassing Omnibus Law on Job Creation, its derivative regulations and most recently Labour Ministry Regulation Number 2/2022, which stipulates that old-age pension funds can only be disbursed to workers after they turn 56, even if they have been sacked.

According to Elitos, this policy is clearly very bad and inhuman where over the last two years the majority of workers have not received a wage increase on the grounds of the economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

"It's like at the moment workers have taken a fall only to have the stairs then fall on them too, and get dust rubbed in their eyes", said Elitos.

During the IWD action, the KASBI made a number of demands. First, urging the government to immediately revoke the Job Creation Law and its derivative regulations and to stop muzzling trade unions in the palm oil sector and other manufacturing companies.

Then, calling for guarantees and the protection of women workers' rights, an end to discrimination against women workers and putting an end to violence and sexual harassment against women workers.

Following on from this, facilitating day care centres for workers' children and providing lactation rooms for women workers to breastfeed their children and the provision of reproductive health rights for women workers.

They also urged the government to guarantee and protect Indonesian migrant workers and demanded the enactment of the Draft Law on the Protection of Domestic Workers and the Draft Law on Sexual Violence Crimes (TPKS).

The IWD commemoration by the hundreds of workers in front of the House of Representatives (DPR) building began at 10.20 am and ended art around 3 pm.

IWD is commemorated on March 8 each year and is a global movement to fight for women's rights in all fields from social, education, economic, cultural and political rights. (lna/kid)

[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was "Aksi Hari Perempuan, Buruh-buruh Kecam Pengawasan Lemah Negara".]