ITUC denounces Indonesian government’s ‘omnibus’ law

The ITUC has denounced a new Indonesian government ‘omnibus’ law that strips away workers’ rights and entitlements, environmental protections and paves the way for privatisation of the electricity sector, in order to attract foreign investment.

Sharan Burrow, ITUC General Secretary, said: “This far-reaching and complex law is an assault on the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by the Indonesian government. It will greatly increase poverty and lead to environmental destruction to appease multinational companies.

“It is staggering that while Indonesia is, like other countries, facing the devastation of the COVID-19 pandemic the government would seek to further destabilise people’s lives and ruin their livelihoods so that foreign companies can extract wealth from the country.”

Included in the law, which changes more than a thousand articles in 79 existing statutes, are provisions that would cut wages, remove important sick leave provisions and other protections, and undermine job security. The sheer scale, complexity and contents of the law are a violation of Indonesia’s responsibilities under international human rights law.

The ITUC’s Indonesian affiliates, KSBSI and KSPI, have opposed changes to labour regulations in the law, and the KSPI is launching a nationwide strike this week, with millions of people expected to take part.

“Obliterating labour rights, stripping away environmental protections, privatising electricity and other provisions in the law, including on education, will have a devastating impact on families and households, impede transition to renewable energy and increase electricity prices.

“Handing control over to multinational companies is not the way to build the economic recovery and resilience required to deal with the pandemic in east-Asia’s worst-affected country. We call on the government to withdraw the law, enter into constructive discussions with the trade unions of Indonesia on any changes to labour provisions and keep faith with the UN SDGs that the government has endorsed,” added Ms Burrow.