DPR and labor unions crack down on Omnibus Bill on job creation

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Omnibus Law Discussion at Nusantara III Building, Parliament Complex, Senayan, on Tuesday (03/03/2020). (Photo: IO/M. Aslam Iqbal)

IO, Jakarta – The Job Opportunity Creation Draft Law (Rancangan Undang-Undang Cipta Kerja – “RUU Ciptaker”) within the Omnibus Law is 1,028 pages in length, contains 11 subject clusters and 1,200 articles. This legal product summarizes 79 existing laws. When the Draft Law entered the House of Representatives (Dewan Perwakilan Rakyat – “DPR”) on 12 February, a hail of criticisms and protests poured in from everywhere – but most harshly from workers’ unions. They stated that the articles embedded in this regulation would only benefit businessmen, while lacking protection for laborers. In response to the blizzard of objections, Jokowi abandoned the target of completing discussion of the RUU in the DPR within a 100-day timeframe. “Maybe it will be three, four, or even five months before we complete the discussion,” President Joko Widodo said at the Ritz Carlton Hotel, Jakarta.

Responding to Jokowi’s request, DPR Speaker Puan Maharani stated that she too, does not want to wrap up the Omnibus Law quickly. Speaking at the Parliamentary Complex, Senayan, Jakarta, she stated that she wants the Omnibus Law to be completed properly, i.e. in a manner most useful to the people.

Member of DPR Commission IX Netty Prasetiyani hopes that nobody will toy with the interest of laborers, as the RUU Ciptaker is being discussed. Both the DPR and Government are urged to focus on the original purpose of creating an Omnibus Law, i.e. “How to make it easy for investments to come in, without causing detriment to our laborer friends,” she declared at Nusantara III Building, Parliament Complex, Senayan, on Tuesday (03/03/2020).

Netty considers the laborers’ concerns about the RUU Ciptaker discussion to be natural: they seek to mitigate the issue and defend their rights, as they see them being eroded by these regulations. The DPR must refer to the points mentioned by the laborers when discussing this Draft Law (Rancangan Undang-Undang – “RUU”). In this way, the Government’s efforts to submit RUU Ciptaker to expedite investments and simplify permit processes can be achieved, “But naturally without degrading laborers’ lives,” she said.

She asks that everyone, especially DPR Factions and labor unions, monitor the discussion closely, and be transparent when composing the RUU. “We must involve employment experts and workers’ unions to ensure that the RUU truly covers everyone’s needs and interests,” Netty said.

The RUU Ciptaker has been strongly rejected, as this one-law-fits-all regulation is considered to be insufficiently supportive of the environment and laborers. Three labor union confederations have agreed to reactivate the Workers and Laborers’ Council of Indonesia (Majelis Pekerja-Buruh Indonesia – “MPBI”). The rebirth of the biggest laborers’ movement in Asia is meant to confront RUU Ciptaker, which is deemed as unfair towards workers.

MPBI is comprised of Workers’ Unions (Konfederasi Seluruh Indonesia – “KSPSI”), Confederation of Indonesia’s Workers’ Unions (Konfederasi Serikat Pekerja Indonesia – “KSPI”), and All-Indonesian Confederation of Labor Unions (Konfederasi Serikat Buruh Seluruh Indonesia – “KSBSI”). They will all crack down on the RUU Ciptaker discussion very strictly. “Why is MPBI reactivated? Because we are facing a great force. Therefore, we abandon our individual egos, we unite in order to continue fighting for the rights of laborers,” said KSPSI President Andi Gani Nena Wea.

Similar to Netty, Center for Indonesian Policy Studies (CIPS) researcher Felippa Ann Amanta stated that the RUU Ciptaker Omnibus is expected to curtail land or farmland functional conversions in the future. Felippa believes that one of the biggest challenges faced by Indonesia’s agriculture so far is the massive functional conversion of land to either urban areas or to manufacturing, as in industrial parks. “Such land conversion may well worsen, because RUU Ciptaker makes it easier to convert land function for “public interest” and “national strategic projects”,” she said.

The previous Law Number 22 of 2019 concerning Sustainable Agricultural Cultivation Systems stipulates requirements that include strategic reviews, submission of a land conversion plan, transfer of rights from original landowners that include compensation, and provision of replacement land for converted agricultural cultivation land. However, these requirements are notably absent from the RUU Ciptaker. “Furthermore, land with comprehensive irrigation networks that used to be exempt from potential land conversion is now allowed to be converted, with the provision that the comprehensive irrigation network be preserved,” Netty said.

She stated that this is not in line with the Government’s wish to improve the growth of the agricultural sector. “If the Government really wants to encourage growth in the agricultural sector, as with the loosening of agricultural investments and business permits, it should also pay attention to this issue of land conversion,” Netty said.

Farmlands must remain a priority of development in order to ensure consistency and improvement of food production. Furthermore, despite the apparent investment and business conveniences, RUU Ciptaker also carries an inherent risk of environmental sustainability. Article 45 of Law Number 39 of 2014 concerning Plantations stipulates environmental requirements for obtaining Plantation Business Permits, such as environmental impact analyses, matching with regional land zoning, and suitability of the plantation plan. These requirements survived in Article 67 of RUU Ciptaker that stipulates that Plantation Entrepreneurs must perform an environmental impact analysis, efforts to manage and monitor the environment, and must also provide necessary structures, facilities, and emergency response systems to mitigate fires. “Yes, these articles have been excised from the RUU Ciptaker. However, the revised Article 67 still states that all Plantation Entrepreneurs must preserve environmental functions,” Netty pointed out.

Don’t Be Reactive
Meanwhile, DPR Member from the National Awakening Party (Partai Kebangkitan Bangsa – “PKB”) Faction, Abdul Kadir Karding, warns laborers not to be so negative in responding to the RUU Ciptaker Omnibus Law. He states that this Law is not meant to give them trouble. “I suggest that laborers not go all out to reject the entire thing,” he said at the Nusantara III Building, the Parliamentary Complex, Senayan, Jakarta, on Tuesday (02/03/2020).

Karding believes that the Draft Law is meant to improve economic conditions, among others by mitigating the steep level of unemployed workers in Indonesia. He quoted Statistics Indonesia (Badan Pusat Statistik – “BPS”) data that reports that there are 7.05 million unemployed in Indonesia per August 2019. Furthermore, there is an addition of 2.25 million new working-age population each year. “Not to mention the number of existing part-time workers. In any case, the total of unemployed or partially unemployed citizens is about 45.8 million people,” he said.

Karding further declared the Omnibus Law strives to be the Government’s effort to implement the 2020-2024 Medium-Term National Development Plan (Rencana Pembangunan Jangka Menengah Negara – “RPJMN”). Government sets a 5.4% to 6% economic growth target. The provision of job opportunities and economic growth must be implemented simultaneously. It is hoped that the targeted economic growth can absorb workers and reduce the number of unemployed citizens. “So for each 1% growth, 400,000 workers will be absorbed. This is what the Government wants, i.e. how to achieve enough growth to absorb 7 million workers,” he said.

He disagrees that the RUU Ciptaker Omnibus Law does not protect workers, as the RUU still contains a number of labor protection provisions. “We still have minimum wage, workers’ loss benefits, and other social benefits, such as death benefits etc. Therefore, there is sufficient protection,” he said.

Similar to Karding, the Vice Chairman of DPR’s Legislation Committee (Badan Legislasi Baleg), Willy Aditya, supports the move to validate the RUU Ciptakarya Omnibus Law as soon as possible, as he believes that the regulation is required to defend the interest of Indonesia amid an ongoing global crisis. “The Omnibus Law I’s Jokowi’s commitment towards economic democracy,” he said.

Willy stated that economic democracy moves have been made before, but they were due to outside coercion, i.e. from the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (“IMF”). “But this (economic democracy move) came from the great political will of an amazing leader,” he said.

Willy considers President Joko Widodo’s move of submitting an Omnibus Law to be a correct one. He believes that momentum must be utilized optimally in order to prepare Indonesia’s economy to face a persistent global crisis. He is optimistic that the Draft Law will be validated soon, because Jokowi has majority support of the Parliament, with 77% of the legislative members having originated from the Government Coalition. “If this goal is not achieved, when will our country achieve a basis of economic democracy? This is great momentum,” he said.  (Dan)