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Indonesian students vow to return to streets, this time joining workers against jobs bill

The Jakarta Post Fri, February 21, 2020

Workers march on the street in front of the House of Representatives (DPR) complex in Central Jakarta to protest against the omnibus bill on job creation on Jan 13. (JP/Seto Wardhana)

JAKARTA, Indonesia – The head of the University of Indonesia’s (UI) student executive body (BEM), Fajar Adi Nugroho, says the university’s students are planning to stage a rally against a proposed bill on job creation.

“There is a high chance that we will take to the street again. [Revoking the omnibus bill] will be among our demands [in the upcoming rally] that have not been fulfilled since #ReformasiDikorupsi,” Fajar said at the Indonesian Forum for the Environment (Walhi) office in Jakarta on Thursday, as quoted by

#ReformasiDikorupsi, which translates to “reform corrupted”, is the tagline for a series of rallies held across the country in late 2019.

The students took to the street in late September and early October to protest against controversial revisions of the Criminal Code and the Corruption Eradication Commission Law, among other pieces of legislation. The partially violent protests lasted several days and were mostly attended by senior high school students and young adults.

In a bid to attract investment, President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo initiated the omnibus bill to make it easier for businesses to operate in Indonesia, thereby boosting job opportunities and economic growth in Southeast Asia’s largest economy.

However, labor groups say the bill would negatively affect their rights, remuneration and job security.

Observers have criticized the draft for the stronger role it would give the central government, saying this posed a risk to the checks and balances within Indonesia’s democracy. Environmentalists have warned that less stringent Environment Impact Analysis and building permit requirements would result in unsustainable growth.

Fajar went on to say that students from other universities had not yet stated their plans to join the BEM UI in the upcoming rally, a date for which has yet to be set.

However, discussions on the draft had erupted at universities across the nation, he added.

“There are several universities in Greater Jakarta, such as Trisakti, that are now distributing questionnaires on [students’] views on the omnibus bill,” Fajar said, adding that students of Gadjah Mada Unisity (UGM) in Yogyakarta and Brawijaya University in Surabaya had also organized discussions on the proposed legislation.

Fajar said students had to be aware of the long-term effects of the omnibus bill once it passed into law.

Workers, meanwhile, have long started a major campaign against the bill, with rallies staged since January.

“Our fellow laborers in Makassar and Lampung have started the movement”, said Akbar Rewako of the Labor Movement Central National Union. “We have no option but to fight a government policy that is not in favor of laborers,” he added. (gis)

From: THE JAKARTA POST, INDONESIA Fri, February 21, 2020

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