Workers in Bekasi, West Java, protest on Oct. 6 to oppose the ‘omnibus law’ on job creation. Similar rallies were also being held across Indonesia. (Photo supplied)
Opposition is growing in Indonesia as well as from international groups to the passing of a new law on job creation which they claim will harm workers’ rights to smoothen the way for investment and threaten the environment.Parliament passed what has been called the “omnibus law” on Oct. 5 amid fierce opposition from labor and environmental various groups among others.
The legislation amends more than 70 existing laws and is aimed at making the issuing of business permits, land acquisition and foreign ownership of companies easier.Its passing sparked widespread protests in various cities on Oct. 6, including in capital Jakarta, despite fears that it could further spread the Covid-19 coronavirus.Andi Gani Nena Wea, president of the Confederation of All Indonesian Workers Unions, which claims to have 4.6 million members, said his group would file for a judicial review in the Constitutional Court.
Lucius Karus, a Catholic senior researcher at Parliament Watch, said lawmakers had harmed democratic principles in passing the law by ignoring public protests, especially from workers during its deliberation process."Criticisms were not taken on board. The move to accelerate its ratification shows that lawmakers wanted to head off workers who had already planned to hold major rallies on Oct. 6-8," he told UCA News.Karus said the law opens the door to investors, domestic and foreign, but also provides less protection for workers who are currently vulnerable due to the pandemic.
It also removes provisions that allow people to contest environmental permits and the need for companies to conduct environmental impact assessments.