Thousands of people from various labor groups and farmer unions as well as university students staged a rally in front of the House of Representatives complex in Senayan, Central Jakarta, on Thursday to protest the ongoing deliberation of the controversial omnibus bill on job creation as well as the Pancasila Ideology Guidelines (HIP) bill.
The protesters were joined in a coalition named the Labor with the People Movement (GEBRAK), comprising members of the Congress Alliance of Indonesian Labor Unions (KASBI), the Agrarian Reform Consortium (KPA) and the Indonesia Youth Movement (AKMI), among other groups.
KASBI chairwoman Nining Elitos said the protesters demanded lawmakers stop the deliberation of the job creation omnibus bill and prioritize other bills that would ensure the well-being and safety of citizens, such as the sexual violence eradication (RUU PKS) and domestic workers protection bills.
"We also urge the House to revoke the recently-passed Mining Law revision and focus on mitigating the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic across the nation," Nining said on Thursday.
Jakarta Police traffic division chief Sr. Comr. Sambodo Purnomo Yogo said around 3,600 officers were deployed to secure the rally.
"[We] deployed between 3,400 to 3,600 personnel in two shifts to secure the rally as well as manage traffic around the area," he said on Thursday as quoted by tempo.co.
Labor groups, activists and members of the general public have repeatedly criticized the House and the government of trying to push through controversial bills. Opposition to the omnibus bill on job creation has only grown as the country faces mass layoffs because of the economic slowdown caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The draft bill, which seeks to amend 79 prevailing laws and more than 1,200 articles, has been opposed by labor unions, who claimed the bill would undermine labor rights and only benefit employers and corporations.
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Several labor groups withdrew from a Manpower Ministry technical team tasked with discussing the labor section of the omnibus bill after their demands to play a greater role in the bill’s deliberations were rejected. The technical team also includes representatives of business associations, such as the Indonesian Employers Association (Apindo) and the Indonesian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Kadin).
Coordinating Economic Minister Airlangga Hartarto said he hoped lawmakers could finish deliberating the omnibus bill by the end of this month, as he claimed they had finished "half of the [bill's] chapters".
In a 34-page statement, GEBRAK said the bill would hurt workers who were already suffering from the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
"[Workers] have received no protections or safety nets [during the pandemic], while the government has not strictly punished employers who have violated our rights. This bill only sells Indonesian citizens as cheap labor for investors," the statement read.
A coalition of customary forest communities have also objected to the omnibus bill, claiming it would make it easier for corporations to seize indigenous lands and forests and would cause economic disparities to increase, especially for people who live in forest areas.
On the same day, the Anti-Communist National Alliance (ANAK), comprising members of 174 mass organizations, also staged a protest against the deliberations of the HIP bill.
The bill, supported by the ruling Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P), aims to regulate the values of the state ideology Pancasila as well as the Agency for Pancasila Ideology Education (BPIP). The party's chairwoman and former president Megawati Sukarnoputri is currently serving as the BPIP steering committee head.
Indonesian Legal Aid Institute (YLBHI) chairwoman Asfinawati previously expressed concerns that the bill could harm the country's freedom of expression, claiming there was an effort to monopolize the interpretation of the state ideology as stipulated in Article 45 of the bill. She also highlighted that Article 48 of the draft bill allows for positions in the BPIP steering committee to be filled by active military and police personnel.