Thousands of students took to the streets in Indonesia on Tuesday, continuing protests of the passage of a sweeping omnibus labor law earlier this month.
The bill, passed October 5, makes changes to a large number of laws regarding business and employment, especially regarding foreign business investment in Indonesia. The law’s stated goals include empowering small businesses and making it easier for both foreign businesses and start-ups to do business in Indonesia. However, labor unions and workers’ rights activists have accused the government of pushing the bill through under less-than-transparent standards, including allegations of discussions held by lawmakers at a hotel outside of Jakarta instead of in open session of parliament, and a rush to pass the bill prior to a labor-union strike.
Human Rights Watch has said that the new law will significantly reduce protections for workers and indigenous people, all to the benefit of the business community. Andreas Harsono, senior Indonesia researcher, said, “Creating jobs and attracting investment are important goals, but they should not come at the expense of basic labor rights and the rights of Indigenous peoples”
It is estimated that Tuesday’s protests involved some 5,000 students across the country, demanding that the government revise the omnibus bill. Protests are to continue on October 28.