Indonesian labour unions vow mass protests if Widodo signs jobs law


Indonesian labour workers threatens to stage further mass protests across the country if President Joko Widodo will go ahead with plans of signing new jobs measures into law next week.

The leader of the main labour group said on Saturday, the labour law will result in the exploitation of workers and said the government must listen to them.

Said Iqbal, head of the Confederation of Indonesian Trade Unions said: “We are ready for dialogue, even ready for a debate if necessary in an open, public hearing”.

The government says the legislation will boost employment by cutting red tape, easing restrictions of foreign investment and improving labour market competitiveness.

Unions and rights groups say the measures favour business over workers and the environment.

Hundreds of thousands of Indonesians have hit the streets across the archipelago in recent weeks, culminating in sporadic violence and thousands of arrests, as they protested the measures passed by parliament on Oct. 05.

If the president signs the measures into law, as expected, on Wednesday, labour unions will stage “massive national” protests on Nov. 01, centred on the State Palace and Constitutional Court in the capital Jakarta, Iqbal told a virtual news conference.

Tens of thousands would be expected to gather in Jakarta and hundreds of thousands more across the country, he said.

Spokesmen at Widodo’s office, Jakarta police and Indonesia’s economic ministry did not immediately respond to requests for comment. (Source: Thomson Reuters Foundation)