Thousands join protest against Indonesia jobs law




Students and workers on Tuesday protested in Jakarta against the new jobs law, the latest in a series of rallies opposing legislation that the government says is needed to attract investment.

Dressed in yellow, blue and green jackets denoting their universities, students demanded that the president, Joko Widodo, widely known as Jokowi, revoke the so-called ‘omnibus’ bill that critics say harms labour rights and the environment.

Remy Hastian, a student from the State University of Jakarta, told Reuters at the rally “our main problem here is that the bill does not accommodate what the people want.’’

Sigit Ari Sandi, a student from Bogor, who singled out measures aimed at loosening rules on minimum wages said “when I graduate, there won’t be a job for me.’’

It was the latest in a series of protests that have erupted across the archipelago in recent weeks, some of which have ended in sporadic violence and thousands of arrests.

Tuesday’s protest, which was joined by labour groups, marked one year since Jokowi was inaugurated for a second term in office.

He comfortably won the re-election in 2019 but in an opinion poll released by Kompas newspaper on Tuesday, 46.3% of respondents said they were dissatisfied with the first year of his second term, while 39.7% said they were satisfied.

Jokowi is meeting Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, who is visiting Southeast Asia’s largest economy for talks that will cover security and are likely to include investment.

The flagship jobs legislation, a revision of more than 70 existing laws that was passed on Oct 5, is designed to remove longstanding impediments to doing business.

This is by cutting red tape, easing restrictions on foreign investment and boosting labour market competitiveness.

The government says it will lead to widespread employment generation.

However, trade unions, student groups, academics and civil society groups say the legislation harms protection for workers.

According to the groups, it will also harm those on minimum wages, severance pay and maternity benefits, and it will weaken environmental protection.

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