Indonesia: Journalists oppose controversial Omnibus Law

Journalists and unions across the country have staged protests to reject the Omnibus Law on Job Creation which was passed on October 5, arguing that it will deprive workers of their rights. The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) joins its affiliate the Alliance of Independent Journalists (AJI) Indonesia to oppose the Omnibus Law and condemn the passage of the law which was not transparent and excluded the participation of civil society.

Members of AJI in Yogyakarta hold a protest to reject Omnibus Law and follow health and safety procedures. Credit: AJI Yogyakarta

AJI has held virtual protests with media representatives across the country, each morning since the law was rushed through parliament. AJI, in its statement, has highlighted several issues in the controversial law including the total lack of public participation and lack of transparency. 

AJI also sees that the passing of controversial bill during the pandemic as unfair and short sighted. The law also comes at a time when the country’s economy shrank by 5.32 per cent between April and June largely because of the spread of Covid-19 in Indonesia.  Indonesia has recorded 311.175 positive cases and 11.374 deaths as of October 7. 

The law has been championed by Indonesia’s President Joko Widodo as an essential way to create jobs and improve Indonesia’s economy. It aims to streamline wages and working hours, but it has affected workers’ rights due to the revision of many articles related to lay-offs, wages and treatment of temporary workers. Under the new law, the number of holidays has been reduced from two days per week to one day a week. the article on long-term leave no longer exists. 

The Omnibus Law also threatens the broadcasting industry’s democratic processes since the new law goes against the existing the broadcasting law.  The government will have greater authority to regulate the broadcasting industry since Article 34, which refers to the role of the Indonesian Broadcasting Commission in the licensing process, has been removed.

IFJ has joined international calls on the government of Indonesia to repeal the Omnibus Law on Job Creation, renegotiate and open constructive dialogue with unions.

Abdul Manan, the chairman of AJI Indonesia, said: “AJI condemns the decision of the House of Representative to deliberate the law which violates the workers’ rights. Currently, Indonesia has not yet reached the stage to guarantee the freedom of form the unions. The law will put the workers in an unequal position with the businesses.”

The IFJ said: “IFJ urges the government to repeal the Omnibus Law on Job Creation and ensure that any future legislation does not diminish existing rights and benefits, which are guaranteed by the Employment Act No.13/2003 as well as international labour standards.”

For further information contact IFJ Asia - Pacific on ifj@ifj-asia.org

The IFJ represents more than 600,000 journalists in 140 countries

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