Indonesian construction workers protest Omnibus Law

13 February 2020 01:23


Workers across Indonesia have protested against the “Omnibus Law” proposed by the Government. Construction workers employed on the Sumsel 1 thermal coal power plant joined the protest, participating in an occupation of the Muara Enim Regional Office in South Sumatra. Unions report that the law will slash severance pay and make it easier for employers to put workers on insecure contracts with lower wages, including through short-term contracts and internships.

“The Government argues that these reforms will create jobs; however, the motive for the legislation is to lure foreign investment,” said SERBUK General Secretary Khamid Istakhori. “Indonesia is a low-wage economy. This legislation is intended to lock in those low wages and prevent unions from improving wages and working conditions for their members.”

Istakhori joined the protest of workers from Sumsel 1, which is being constructed by the Guandong Power Engineering Co Ltd. He observed the poor working conditions on the site and reported that there were frequent workplace accidents.

“Workers on this site have been provided inadequate personal protective equipment and the company has failed to make social security payments, meaning that workers have to cover their own hospital bills,” continued Istakhori. “Weakening workers’ security of tenure and their bargaining power will intensify this bad situation, making work even less safe.”

While the Omnibus Bill has been the subject of intense public scrutiny and opposition, the draft text remains secret, having not been made public by the Government. The Bill is understood to also contain amendments to other areas of law, including environmental provisions and land acquisition, also designed to attract foreign investors.