Indonesian human rights activist Veronica Koman told a solidarity gathering outside the Indonesian consulate in Maroubra on October 9 that a new labour law was a “crime against the people of Indonesia”.
She said the new employment law was rushed through on October 5 in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic which is ravaging the country. It allows for an increase in overtime hours and a cut to mandatory severance payments to employees. It also scraps mandatory paid leave for childbirth, weddings, baptism and bereavement, as well as menstrual leave.
“There has been huge public opposition to the Omnibus Law on Job Creation”, Koman said, including hundreds of academics. She said it was not only a great threat to human rights, in particular labour rights, it also threatened Indigenous rights and environmental protection. “The law is an expression of the power of the oligarchs and big business in Indonesia.”
Indonesians have taken to the streets for several days running in mass strikes. Protests have swept dozens of cities. Hundreds have been arbitrarily arrested and six students are in critical condition from police brutality.
Jagath Bandara, from the International Transport Workers Federation, told the gathering that the Australian union movement “must join with the international community to express our solidarity with our Indonesian brothers and sisters in condemning this law”.
Paul Keating, from the Sydney branch Maritime Union of Australia, said the union stands with the workers of Indonesia. “The omnibus law further entrenches anti-labour legislation in Indonesia. We condemn the Indonesian government for its anti-worker attacks and send our support our Indonesian comrades who are rising up and resisting this repressive law.”
The protest finished with participants chanting: “Reject the Omnibus law! No confidence in the House and the President [of Indonesia]! Stop police brutality!”