Jakarta. President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo and the House of Representatives have agreed to postpone deliberation on labor issues in the much-anticipated omnibus bill, just in time to persuade workers against holding a mass protest before the May Day amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
"The government and DPR have the same view to postponing the discussion of the labor cluster in the job creation bill," President Jokowi said on Friday, referring the House by its acronym.
Jokowi's administration puts a high hope on the bill to improve the investment climate in the country. The bill aims for sweeping revisions to the country's existing laws, including the 2003 labor law that many deemed too rigid for establishing an investment climate that is competitive in the region.
But labor unions were quick to point out that the omnibus bill would strip out many protections Indonesian workers already have today, including severance pay and the minimum wage. The unions even planned a mass protest on April 30 to reject the bill, disregarding the police order and the risk of spreading Covid-19 disease.
So on Thursday, Jokowi told the House and conveyed the government's proposal to delay the deliberation on the labor issues, to which the House approved.
"This delay would provide an opportunity for us to explore the substance of the relevant articles further and also get input from stakeholders," Jokowi said.
Said Iqbal, chairman of the Confederation of Indonesian Workers' Union (KSPI), welcomed the delay, saying the confederation had called off its plan to stage a protest at the House's building in Central Jakarta and the Coordinating Ministry for Economic Affairs next Thursday.
"President Jokowi's decision provides momentum for all of us, including the workers, to maintain Indonesia' unity in fighting against Covid-19 and to arrange a joint strategy to prevent emergency layoffs amid the coronavirus disease epidemic," Iqbal said.
Iqbal also welcomed the government's invitation for discussion with the workers. "This is reflected in the president's statement saying that he will listen to the views of all stakeholders," he said.
"The discussion should be held after the pandemic is over," Iqbal said.
Andi Gani Nena Wea, the chairman of All-Indonesian Workers' Union Confederation (KSPSI), also expressed his gratitude for Jokowi's decision.
"I am deeply moved by this decision. From the beginning, I was sure that President Jokowi listened to the voice of the workers, not just because of [political] pressure," Andi said.