On 5 October 2020, the Indonesian government passed, without any prior consultation with the national unions, an Omnibus Law which introduced sweeping changes to workers’ entitlements and environmental regulation. The law, which changed more than a thousand articles in seventy-nine existing statutes, chiefly removed important sick leave provisions (such as mandatory paid leave for childbirth), raised limits on overtime work, cut severance pay, and overall undermined job security for millions of Indonesians. The sheer scale, complexity and contents of the law were a violation of Indonesia’s responsibilities under international human rights law. The government justified these massive cuts into workers’ protections as necessary to make Indonesia more attractive to investors.
Violent attacks on workers
On 26 August 2020, Khamid Istakhori, general secretary of Federasi SERBUK, was physically assaulted during a peaceful protest against the Omnibus Bill for Job Creation at the Simpang Tiga PT Tanjung Enim Lestari.
The peaceful workers’ protest became violent when company management personnel began to brutally disperse the workers. Istakhori tried to intervene and negotiate but instead he was beaten up. Suffering from bruises and wounds on his face, Istakhori was hospitalised. Days after, he still experienced dizziness, nausea and headaches.
Violent attacks on workers
In the early morning of 8 August 2020, the Indonesian police brutally dispersed fifty members of the Federation of Indonesian Pulp and Paper Workers Union (FSP2KI) who were carrying out a blockade in front of PT. Tanjungenim Lestari Pulp and Paper (TELPP) in Lampung Province. A hundred and twenty police officers assaulted and beat union members. Several women union members were sexually harassed by police officers during the dispersal.
The workers had been taking action in front of the company gates for sixty-five days in solidarity with thirty-eight members whose work contracts were discontinued by the outsourcing company PT. Kaliguma Transindo, when TELPP ended the contract and appointed a new outsourcing company. They demanded that the new outsourcing company rehire all the workers who were formerly employed by PT Kaliguma Transindo.
Prosecution of union leaders for participating in strikes
On 5 October 2020, the Indonesian government passed, without any prior consultations with the national unions, an Omnibus Law which introduced sweeping changes to workers’ entitlements and environmental regulation.
Soon after, demonstrations organised by the unions swept the country. The strikes were met with violence and arbitrary arrests, with police detaining 183 people in South Sumatra and holding more than 200 protesters in Jakarta. Thirty-two members of Federation of Indonesian Metal Workers' Union (FSPMI) were injured by water cannons and tear gas in Bekasi, and another ten were arrested in Bekasi and Jakarta, as the police accused workers of striking outside of allowed hours.