Jakarta – The House of Representatives Commission IX overseeing health care and manpower will form a team with labor unions to discuss the upcoming omnibus bill on job creation, which has been rejected by workers over speculations it would undermine labor rights.
Commission IX vice chairman Emanuel Melkiades said the team would be a better platform for the unions to convey their aspirations instead of street protests.
The House is trying to prevent another wave of protest by laborers, which will continue on Monday after two previous rallies in the past two weeks.
"Leaders of labor confederations can choose their representatives and the Commission will choose ours, so we can use the team to further discuss [the omnibus bill on job creation] issue," Emanuel said during a public hearing with labor groups at the Commission on Thursday.
The Indonesian Worker Union Confederation (KSPI), National Welfare Movement (Gekanas) and State-Owned Enterprises Joint Labor Movement (Geber BUMN) were among the labor groups that joined the hearing.
President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo previously said that the omnibus bill on job creation would be completed last week and submitted to the House this week to be placed on the government's priority bills list (Prolegnas).
The bill on job creation is seen as essential for the government as it has been struggling to attract foreign investment to help improve economic growth. If passed, the omnibus law will amend around 1,200 articles in more than 80 prevailing laws, including the Labor Law, which have been blamed for hampering investment in the country.
Labor unions, however, rejected the bill after rumors surfaced that it would reduce severance payments, enforce an hourly pay system to replace the minimum wage and eliminate sanctions against companies who fail to provide health insurance. The government has since clarified that the bill would not eliminate the minimum wage regulation but without shedding further light on the rumors.
Hundreds of laborers from several unions staged rallies in front of the House complex's main gate in Central Jakarta on Jan. 13 to protest the omnibus bill, following a smaller protest with about 100 people at Tanjung Priok Port in North Jakarta on Jan. 9.
The KSPI announced on Saturday that around 30,000 workers from Greater Jakarta would once again march to the House building on Monday to demand that the government stop further deliberations of the bill. Regional chapters of the KSPI are expected to march to their respective Regional Legislative Council (DPRD) buildings on the same day.
Indonesian Metal Workers Federation (FSPMI) secretary-general Riden Hatam Aziz added his federation would follow the protest with a national strike from metal workers if the government did not fulfill laborers' demands.
"We hope Monday's protest could be the first and final warning," Riden told reporters on Saturday. KSPI chairman Muhammad Rusdi said that he would wait for around a month before declaring a KSPI-wide labor strike.
The government claimed to have discussed with seven labor confederations and 28 other unions regarding the bill and said that almost all confederations accept the bill, Coordinating Economic Minister Airlangga Hartanto said on Jan. 15. (mfp)