Indonesia unions threaten strike over government’s labour reforms

  • Indonesian trade unions threatened to stage a national strike next month after a committee in parliament agreed to move ahead with proposed labour reforms in President Joko Widodo’s controversial “Job Creation” bill.
  • Lawmakers in the legislation committee held meetings at the weekend to finish debating the bill so that it could be passed before parliament goes into recess on 9 Oct 20.
  • Trade unions were preparing to hold rallies this week and planned a national strike involving five million workers on 6 – 8 Oct 20, ahead of the vote, demanding proposed labour reforms be dropped, a union leader said.
  • “During the national strike, we will stop all production processes,” Said Iqbal, president of the Confederation of Indonesia Trade Unions, said in a statement.
  • Unions and green groups have held several rallies to protest the bill, though rallies last week were relatively small.
  • On 27 Sep 20, the legislation committee agreed a cut in mandatory severance benefits paid by an employer to 23 times monthly wages, versus a current maximum of 32 times, said Firman Soebagyo, a lawmaker from the Golkar party.
  • He said workers would still be eligible for the existing level and the government would fund the difference.
  • The government had wanted maximum severance benefits to be cut to 19 times the monthly wage, arguing existing rules were too generous and deterred employers from hiring.
  • The committee also rejected a proposal to tie the minimum wage only to economic growth and allow labour-intensive industries to set their own wage.
  • However, they endorsed proposals to cut mandatory paid leave, which includes menstrual leave, and allow longer work hours.
  • The legislation committee must now invite at least one government minister to agree on its decision, before bringing their endorsement to a parliamentary vote.
  • Committee chairman Supratman Andi Atgas told Reuters such a meeting is yet to be scheduled as lawmakers work on the legal drafting of the final version of the bill.

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