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Thousands continue protests against Indonesia’s new jobs law

JAKARTA, Indonesia — Thousands of workers in Indonesia on Monday continued their protests against the country’s new jobs law that critics say will erode labour rights and weaken environmental protections.

The Confederation of Indonesian Trade Unions, or KSPI, said thousands of workers from cities in West Java and East Java provinces representing 32 labour unions took part in a mass rally near the Presidential Palace and constitutional Court in Jakarta.

Protests also took place in other parts of the country, including Yogyakarta, Banda Aceh, Medan and Makassar.

The protest in Jakarta, the capital, ended peacefully after labour union representatives delivered a written statement to the constitutional Court.

“We demand that the constitutional Court conduct a judicial review of the Job Creation Law, to really pay attention to the aspirations that have been voiced by millions of Indonesian workers,” KSPI President Said Iqbal said in the statement.

He had said Sunday that the demands are to cancel the new law and continue to see increases in the minimum wage in 2021.

The Job Creation Law, which was approved by Parliament on Oct. 5, is expected to substantially change Indonesia’s labour system and natural resources management. It amended 79 previous laws and is intended to improve bureaucratic efficiency as part of efforts by President Joko Widodo’s administration to attract more investment to the country.

The demonstrators say the law will hurt workers by reducing severance pay, removing restrictions on manual labour by foreign workers, increasing the use of outsourcing and converting monthly salaries to hourly wages.

After the law was passed, workers and students in several cities in Indonesia started demonstrations demanding that Widodo revoke the legislation.

In an interview with The Associated Press in July 2019, Widodo said he would push ahead with sweeping and potentially unpopular economic reforms, including the more business-friendly labour law, because he is no longer constrained by politics in his final term.

Edna Tarigan, The Associated Press


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