Dwi Bowo Raharjo and Novian Ardiansyah – A screen capture has been circulating on a WhatsApp group (WAG) asking workers, high school and university students to send SMSs or chats to mobile phone numbers belonging to the House of Representatives (DPR) Legislation Body (Baleg) leadership.
In the WAG message it asks for SMSs to be sent with requests that the Baleg not continue with deliberations on the Draft Omnibus Law on Job Creation and focus instead on assisting the government in handling the Covid-19 epidemic.
Leading DPR member and Baleg Chairperson Supratman Andi Agtas claims that he has received thousands of messages on his mobile phone containing protests against deliberations on the Omnibus Law. He has been receiving these messages since Tuesday April 7.
"Yes, so now it's almost everyone, we as leaders of the Baleg are currently receiving SMSs and WhatsApp messages from labour groups. Mostly its workers, we're still getting them. There's tens of thousands already. Yes, since yesterday", Agtas told journalists on Wednesday April 8.
Agtas said that quite a few of the messages from workers included the identity of their workplaces. Meanwhile the content of the messages from workers was opposition to the Omnibus Law, particularly those stipulations in the law related to labour.
"One, they reject the Draft Omnibus Law, but some were more specific, namely rejecting the cluster [of stipulations] on labour, there were some also who just copied and pasted the message. But essentially we will respond to this in a good way, I might even say that this is the largest demonstration ever held by our worker friends, using social media", said Agtas.Agtas himself said he would be overwhelmed if he had to respond to or reply to every single message that came in. He has therefore decided to respond through his personal Facebook account.
"I've tried to replay to them one by one but it's impossible for me to answer all of them. So now [I'll do it] through my Facebook social media account. I'm open to asking for responses to input which is constructive", he asserted.
Earlier, workers across Greater Jakarta (Jabodetabek) from the Confederation of Indonesian Trade Unions (KSPI) had planned to hold demonstrations in mid-April in response to an arbitrary decision by the DPR to continue deliberating the Omnibus Law in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic.
KSPI President Said Iqbal said that at least 50,000 workers were ready to protest in front of the DPR urging lawmakers to drop the Omnibus Law. He said that the workers would go ahead with the action despite the risks posed by the corona virus.
"Workers are not afraid of the risks of corona or the ban on large numbers of people gathering. Because workers are currently facing two serious threats against their and their family's lives", said Iqbal in a press release on Friday April 3.
"The first one is the threat of the loss of life because [workers] have not yet been given leave during the corona pandemic. And the second one is the threat to workers' futures who will sink into destitution because the Draft Omnibus Law on Job Creation that will be deliberated by the Baleg working committee", he continued.
Workers are questioning the attitude of the DPR's leadership and members. They are asking why the Omnibus Law is being deliberated first rather than the draft law on moving the capital city which was submitted beforehand.
"In whose interests is this? Is it reasonable to suspect that it's the hands of capitalists which are currently at work in the DPR?", he said.
According to Iqbal, there are to matters which are more important for the DPR to discuss rather than the Omnibus Law which has been strongly opposed by workers, students, traditional communities, social and religious figures as well as other social groups.
First, the DPR and the government should focus on thinking about an effective and rapid way to overcome the spread of the corona virus.
One such measure would be to give workers leave but still be paid full wages, as a step to maintain social distancing. To this day millions of workers are still working in companies under dangerous conditions.
Second, the DPR should focus on providing input to the government by carrying out its function of oversight and legislation on the potential for mass sackings which will occur as a consequence of the pandemic and post the pandemic.
[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was "Pimpinan Baleg DPR Kewalahan Tanggapi Ribuan SMS Buruh Tolak Omnibus Law".]