May Day rally in Aceh rejects Omnibus Law, demands labour bylaw revisions

IDN Times – May 1, 2021
Workers commemorate May Day at Simpang Lima traffic circle in Banda Aceh – May 1, 2021 (IDN Times)

Muhammad Saifullah, Banda Aceh – Scores of workers held a long-march from the Baiturrahman Grand Mosque to the Simpang Lima traffic circle in the Achenese provincial capital of Banda Aceh to commemorate International Labour Day which fell on Saturday May 1.

Arriving at the Simpang Lima traffic circle, the protesters, who are an alliance of workers from several parts of Aceh, took turns in giving speeches. The action proceeded in an orderly fashion and after giving speeches for around two hours the workers disbanded.

A number of demands were taken up during the action. The demands were not just about local issues but also national in scale.

"The national scale demand is related to the Omnibus Law. So indeed workers in Aceh and nationally are still consistent in rejecting the Omnibus Law", said one of the representatives of the demonstrators, Edy Jaswar.

The reason they are still rejecting Law Number 11/2020 on Job Creation is because there are several problematic articles and regulations in the law.

The workers also rejected four government regulations related to labour issues including Government Regulation Number 34/2021 on the Use of Foreign Workers, Government Regulation Number 35/2021 on Certain Work Contracts, Outsourcing, Working Hours, Labour Relations, Rest Periods and the Termination of Employment, Government Regulation Number 36/2021 on Wages and Government Regulation Number 37/2021 the Organisation of Welfare Programs for Job Losses.

None of these regulations were considered as good at Law Number 13/2003 on Labour.

"There are four points we reject in the Omnibus Law. Because there is still insecurity over employment, wages and social welfare. Because of this we continue to reject them", Jaswar asserted.

"One of these is permits for foreign labour, this has been made easier and could make it easy for them to come in. It has significant potential to undermine employment opportunities for local works in Indonesia", added Jaswar.

At a local level meanwhile, Jaswar, who is the secretary of the regional leadership board of the Indonesian Metal Trade Workers Federation (FSPMI), called for Qanun (bylaw) Number 7/2014 on Labour to be revised because they believe that the bylaw does not have protections that cover all workers.

"We are independent. We [want] prosperity and to be able to determine labour conditions ourselves", he said.

In order to realise this, Jaswar and his colleagues in Aceh will attempt to meet with legislators and the government to discuss the next two years. "Hopefully later a better and revised qanun will be realised", he said.

[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was "May Day di Aceh, Tolak Omnibus Law dan Revisi Qanun Ketenagakerjaan".]