The spirit of May Day during Eid al-Fitr: Seeking middle ground in midst of Job Creation Law

12
May day
Illustration: LEONARDO A. PUTONG

Jakarta, IO – The spirit of workers’ struggle for better living conditions in the nineteenth century, which gave rise to the annual celebration of International Labor Day on May 1, commemorated as ‘May Day’, continues to inspire the labor movement today. The initial struggle to secure the right to work for a maximum of 8 hours per day, which has since become a regulation in many countries, continues to inspire workers to fight for basic rights such as job security, decent living, the right to form a union and negotiate with employers, social security, and so on. 

May Day was first celebrated in 1920 in Indonesia by the country’s labor union movement in the context of struggle for labor rights during the colonial rule. May Day commemoration continued to be held after Indonesia’s independence until 1967 before the government of the New Order. 

The New Order government made it illegal to celebrate May Day, and trade unions were associated with communism. Since 1999, when New Order was deposed, May Day has been commemorated once more. Inter – national Labor Day has been a national holiday in Indonesia since May 1, 2014. 

Read: Newly-formed Labor Party ready to compete in 2024 elections

Workers’ May Day celebrations, steeped with the spirit of struggle for their welfare and basic rights, are still important today. In fact, in the face of wealthy investors who control the economy and people’s lives, the struggle is becoming even more challenging. 

The era of global capitalism and technological advancement controlled by big investors is driven by market forces above all else. They have continued to exert influence in “forcing” the government as the regulator to make labor and employment law as flexible as possible by weakening the system of supervision and law enforcement and have the government serve their interests instead of promoting labor welfare, environmental sustainability, or the rights of indigenous peoples, etc. 

Race to The Bottom 

One clear evidence of government’s siding with investors is the issuance of Law 11/2020, otherwise known as Job Creation Law and its implementing regulations which comprise government regulations (PP), presidential regulations to ministerial regulations. All of these regulations are devoted to the accumulation of added value and capital on the part of big investors. The wealth gap will widen, and human rights will be potentially trampled by the power of capital. 

Under the pretext of creating more job opportunities, the government unilaterally and expeditiously enacted the Job Creation Law and its implementing regulations. The agreement between the government and the legislature smoothed out the entire process of passing the law without facing any significant obstacles, from the drafting, deliberation by the House, to the administrative numbering process by the government. As a result, the contents of the Job Creation Law have undermined the protection of the public rights and welfare. 

The formation of a negotiating team to discuss the draft of manpower cluster of the Law, only exists on paper. The Coordinating Economic Minister decree mentions representatives of the Trade/ Labor Unions (SP/SB) elements, however they were never consulted in the draft discussion before it was submitted to the House. 

The deliberation by the House, open to the public via social media, appeared to be of poor quality. The discussion of philosophical, sociological and legal aspects was not carried out properly. It was mostly formality which ultimately resulted in the poor quality of the majority of the contents of the Law, with detrimental effect on the public.