Protests in Indonesia Intensify Over New Labor Laws

Protests over the new labor laws in Indonesia have gradually escalated in violence. Clashes between demonstrators and police officers took place near the presidential palace in Jakarta as cops tried to scatter the protesters. 

During the demonstrations, the president of Indonesia Joko Widodo was visiting the Central Kalimantan province.

Job Creation Law Creates Major Backlash

On Monday, the Parliament approved the new Job Creation Law which was intended to improve bureaucratic efficiency in the country. It amended 79 previous laws and is expected to significantly change Indonesia’s labor system and natural resources management. 

According to the protesters, the law will reduce the severance pay and remove the restrictions on manual labor by foreign workers, increasing the use of outsourcing, and converting monthly salaries to hourly payments.

Protesters and Police Clash

As the protesters tried to approach the palace compound throwing rocks and bottles, the police fired at them tear gas. At night, protesters set fire to a subway shelter in the center of Jakarta, burning several cars and road barriers, and destroying some government offices.

In a news conference on Thursday, Security Minister Mohammad Mahfud stated the government would not tolerate any vandalizing of public facilities or physical attacks on police officers and community members. Mahfud added that the government will “carry out legal proceedings against all perpetrators and actors who ride on these anarchist and criminal actions.

Protesters Request National Strike Days

Despite the announced penalties, similar clashes happened in other large cities, involving Bandung, Makassar, Manado, Medan, and Yogyakarta. Protesters have pleaded for a three-day national strike starting Tuesday demanding that the government annulate the law.

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