Gabrak activists demand 10-15% wage increase during audience at State Palace

CNN Indonesia – November 29, 2021
Gebrak protesters demonstrate in front of State Palace in Jakarta – November 29, 2021 (CNN)

Jakarta – Six representatives from labour, student and civil society groups which are part of the Labour Movement with the People (Gebrak) held an audience with a Presidential Staff Office (KSP) representative to discuss wages.

"Around six Gebrak representatives have gone into the Palace to hold an audience with Palace staff and the news was they were received by KSP deputy heads IV and V", Indonesian Trade Union Congress Alliance Confederation (KASBI) leader Nugraha told the workers from a command vehicle in the Horse Statue area of Central Jakarta on Monday November 29.

Nugraha also asked the protesters to remain at the location while they awaited the results of the audience. "So remain here while we await the result of our representative's audience", he continued.

Earlier, hundreds of workers from groups affiliated with Gebrak held a protest action demanding President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo issue a Presidential Regulation (Keppres) on wages. They asked that the 2022 national minimum wage be increased by as much as 10-15 percent.

"[We're] urging President Joko Widodo to issue a Keppres on national wages for 2022 with a 10 to 15 percent increase", said Gebrak spokesperson Nining Elitos in an official press release on Monday.

Elitos also asked the government to obey a ruling by the Constitutional Court (MK) which recently declared that the Job Creation Law is conditionally unconstitutional. Therefore regulations on wages which are a derivative of the Job Creation Law, namely Government Regulation (PP) Number 36/2021 on Wages, must also not apply.

Elitos also urged the government to revoke a Labour Ministry circular on setting the 2022 minimum wage.

"Following the MK's ruling, there are no longer any grounds for the government to continue setting minimum wage [increases] using PP 36/2021", explained Elitos.

The Gebrak protesters had wanted to hold a demonstration in front of the State Palace but were stopped from doing so by police.

Some 10 police officers in full riot gear stood in the front ranks with a line of women police officers behind them. At the third layer of security police installed razor wire with dozens more police officers forming a fourth layer of security behind this.

In addition to this, the police also mobilised armoured vehicles such as barricade vehicles, barracuda armoured vehicles and crowd dispersal vehicles (Raisa).

Blocked by police, the workers and students gave speeches near the Horse Statue, played music and sung songs of struggle.

A representative from the Indonesian Workers Political Committee (KPBI), which is a part of Gebrak, Andi Panca, said that they are demanding that President Widodo issue a presidential decree on 2022 wage increases.

"To all trade unions, come on, let us mobilise together on the 29th [of November], we will besiege the Palace and we will ensure that President Jokowi sides with us and issues a Keppres [on wages]", said Panca at a press conference at the Jakarta Legal Foundation (LBH Jakarta) offices in Central Jakarta on Friday November 26.

Some 1,499 joint personnel meanwhile were deployed to secure another labour demonstration in front of the Jakarta Town Hall.

Separately, the Confederation of Indonesian Trade Unions (KSPI) threatened to hold a mass strike on the 6th, 7th and 8th of December if the government does not implement Constitutional Court ruling number 91/PUU-XVIII/2020 on a formal test of the Job Creation Law.

"We are still planning a national strike on the 6th, 7th and 8th of December 2021 if the [Jakarta] governor's decision on the UMP [provincial minimum wage] and the UMK [municipal minimum wage] continues to use PP 36/2021", said KSPI President Said Iqbal during a virtual press conference on Monday.

Said strongly condemned President Widodo's statement that despite the Constitutional Court's ruling, all of the material and substance of the Job Creation Law, along with its derivative regulations, remains in force. According to Said, Widodo's statement is misleading.

"The words from the government, both from the president as well as ministers, who have declared that the Jobs Law is still in force because its articles have not been revised, is confusing. Saying so is even misleading. Because what was granted by the MK was a formal test, the procures [in making the law] were examined. Not article by article", he said.

Widodo earlier stated that the government would implement the Constitutional Court's ruling. He said that the court gave the government and the House of Representatives (DPR) two years to implement the ruling. During this time, Widodo said that the Jobs Law will remain in force.

Earlier, the Constitutional Court ruled that the Job Creation Law was conditionally unconstitutional and ordered the government and the DPR to revise the law within a time frame of two years. (iam/ryn/arh)

[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was "Desak Upah Layak Naik 10-15 Persen, Massa Gebrak Temui KSP".]