Workers protest at Trade Ministry over mass layoffs in textile industry

CNN Indonesia – July 3, 2024
Workers face off with police during protest action in Jakarta – Undated (CNN)

Jakarta – Protesting workers have dispersed after holding a demonstration rejecting Minister of Trade Regulation Number 8/2024 on Import Policies and Regulations in front of the Ministry of Trade offices in Central Jakarta on Wednesday July 3.

They began leaving the location at around 2.48 pm while playing the song For You My Country (Bagimu Negeri) from a loudspeaker system.

Before dispersing, a speaker from the command vehicle said that they will hold an even bigger demonstration to reject the Trade Ministry's policy on Monday July 8.

For the workers, the Trade Ministry's policy has resulted in many textile workers being laid off.

"On July 8 we will come to this place. Bring our members who have been PHK [laid off]. And we will combine it with an Omnibus Law [on Job Creation] action. Three to four times the masses today", said the speaker.

The speaker also asked for the textile workers who have been affected by layoffs recently to attend on July 8 and that they want the Trade Ministry to know that massive layoffs are happening in the textile industry.

The speaker also asked labour organisations to consolidate in preparation for the July 8 action. "Hopefully we are all protected by God. Please return to your respective [work] places. See you on Monday July 8", they said.

Before holding the action at the Ministry of Trade, the workers held an action in the Arjunawiwaha Horse Statue area on Jalan Medan Merdeka Barat in Central Jakarta.

During the action, the Nusantara Trade Union Confederation (KSPN) reported that textile sales performance has been sluggish lately.

KSPN President Ristadi said the number of orders coming into textile factories in Indonesia has continued to decline. As a result, they have to carry out efficiency measures, one of which is sacking workers.

The KSPN has recorded that around 13,800 textile workers were laid off between January and early June as a consequence of this problem.

Prior to the demonstration at the Trade Ministry offices, the protesters managed to close off Jalan R.I. Ridwan Rais for approximately 10 minutes resulting in a traffic jam. Motorists who passed by sounded their horns because of the road closure.

"There will be no negotiations. We ask that 20 people be allowed to enter the room for the audience! Or we will go back and close off the road", said one of the protesters from the command vehicle.

As many as 20 worker representatives were then allowed to enter the Trade Ministry building for an audience.

A number of demands were taken up during the demonstration today. These included an end to textile worker layoffs, revoking Minister of Trade Regulation Number 8/2024 and protecting domestic industries, especially textile, courier, logistic and steel industries.

They also demanded the cancellation of the Director General of Land Transportation regulation that allows foreign online apps and platforms to open courier and logistics service businesses.

Then, an end to unfair competition by foreign logistics services owned by foreign platforms such as Shopee, Blibli and Tokopedia by using domestic courier services such as J&T and Indonesia Post, prevent the threat of the layoff of tens of thousands of workers in the courier and logistics industry, including at Indonesia Post, as well as asking the Business Competition Supervisory Commission (KPPU) to prohibit foreign platforms from conducting business in courier and logistics services. (lna/tsa)

[Slightly abridged translation by James Balowski based on two articles by CNN Indonesia on July. The original title of the lead article was " Demo Buruh di Kantor Kemendag Bubar, Ancam Demo Lagi Pekan Depan".]