Jakarta – Hundreds of workers from the Labour Movement with the People (Gebrak) have begun packing the area near the House of Representatives (DPR) building in Jakarta in a follow up action demanding the cancelation of the recently enacted Law Number 11/2020 on Job Creation.
Earlier, Central Jakarta deputy police chief Assistant Superintendent Heribertus Ompusunggu asked the workers to follow government regulations on health protocols in the mist of the Covid-19 pandemic.
"We must maintain government Covid-19 protap [standard operating procedures]. Wear masks, if you don't wear a mask we will force you to. Maintain social distancing, don't touch each other", said Ompusunggu on Tuesday November 17.
In response to Ompusunggu's request, Indonesian Trade Union Congress Alliance Confederation (KASBI) Chairperson Nining Elitos stated that from the start workers were committed to following Covid-19 health protocols during the action, from maintaining social distancing to wearing masks and carrying hand sanitizers.
"All of us are applying health standards, namely wearing masks. Comrades have brought hand sanitizers and we instructed them to do this right from the start. We're managing all of this from the command centre", said Elitos.
The hundreds of workers – the majority of which came from KASBI – began crowding into the area in front of the parliamentary complex at around 11 am. A short time later they were joined by scores of students.
The workers and students immediately began managing social distancing and formed lines in front of the parliamentary complex in the Senayan area of Central Jakarta. Workers and police held negotiations on the application of health protocols during the protest.
Elitos warned the government that it must treat the ordinary people who want to speak out against the Omnibus Law on Job Creation fairly. According to Elitos, if the government wants to ban workers from taking to the streets then it must also halt labour activities in the factories where they work.
Elitos said that workers' have been forced to hold protest actions because of the government's attitude which has continued to close its ears to the demands of workers on the Omnibus Law.
"Where power today is an extension of the hands of the interests of colonialists over the nation and the people of Indonesia", she said.
Following the rally at the DPR complex, the workers plan to hold a long-march to the Ministry of Education and Culture to commemorate International Students Day which falls on Tuesday.
During the action they made four demands, namely revoking the Omnibus Law, cancelling the Ministry of Labour's decision not to increase the 2021 minimum wage, an end to repression by police and the release of protesters arrested at previous demonstrations that have been criminalised and free education during the Covid-19 pandemic. (psp)
[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was "Massa Buruh Tolak UU Ciptaker Padati DPR, Janji Patuh Prokes".]