Thousands of workers close down Surabaya’s streets in rally against Omnibus Law

Suara Jatim – March 11, 2020
Workers march through Surabaya during rally against Omnibus Law – March 11, 2020 (Suara)

Pebriansyah Ariefana – Thousands of protesters opposing the Draft Omnibus Law on Job Creation who arrived from the south-west and east of Sidoarjo have begun to pack into the streets around the Waru Airport in the East Java (Jatim) provincial capital of Surabaya.

They arrived at around 12.45 pm and came from various labour organisations including the Mining, Energy and Pharmaceutical Trade Union Federation Confederation of Indonesian Trade Unions (FSKEP-KSPI), the All Indonesian Workers Union (SPSI) and the Indonesian Metal Trade Workers Federation (FSPMI).

The protesters, who came from various areas, could be seen stopping at in front of the Surabaya Cito Mall. From there they plan to hold an action near the Waru Airport.

From the western side meanwhile the protesters had already stopped and were filling the streets under the toll road flyover. The action was also joined by students. The police meanwhile had been waiting for the protesters to arrive since 9 am.

FSKEP Chairperson Sunandar said that the action was indeed planned to take place in the vicinity of the Waru Airport because it is a strategic location to convey their demands, both to the government and the public. The action has been named GETOL or Movement Against the Omnibus Law.

“It is important to clarify the Omnibus Law and we firmly oppose it because there are points in it which degrade workers’ rights. The action here is so that this is heard by the central government which is currently discussing an initial plenary meeting on the Omnibus Law”, he said.

Sunandar continued saying that today’s rally was an important moment for students, the public and legal aid foundations in East Java. Together with GETOL, social organisations would hold simultaneous actions calling on the government to reconsider the articles in the Omnibus Law.

“The Jokowi [President Joko Widodo] government and the DPR [House of Representatives] are seriously considering the articles in the Omnibus Law. First of all the draft law clearly abolishes the principle of wage and income security and the UMK [regency and municipal minimum wage] will be abolished and replaced by a provincial minimum wage and wage agreements”, he said.

“If wage agreements are applied then the problem is that there will be no security. If the provincial minimum wage is applied we could be paid 1.7 million rupiah [a month] while now we get 4.2 million rupiah. Then social welfare, no workers will get guarantees because under the Omnibus [Law] related to permanent employees there are only contract workers”, he continued.

Will this threaten workers who want to join a trade union? Sunandar said that if there are no guarantees of permanent employment then automatically this will have an influence on the scope to join a trade union in the future.

“Today is a warm-up in Jatim and simultaneously across Indonesia, everyone today is in motion because it relates to the future. If our voices are not heard we will build an even bigger movement”, he said.

[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was “Ribuan Buruh Tutup Jalan di Surabaya, Demo Tolak Omnibus Law”.]