Workers Rally Against Indonesia’s Outsourcing System in Jakarta Protest
Mikael Niman & Bayu Marhaenjati
Thousands of workers marched on foreign embassies in Jakarta on Wednesday in the latest labor protest demanding the end of Indonesia’s controversial contract worker laws.
The demonstrators massed at the Hotel Indonesia traffic circle Wednesday morning before marching to the South Korean and Japanese embassies in protests against Korean tech-giant Samsung and Japanese carmaker Toyota. Labor unions accused both companies of using contract workers in a process locally referred to as “outsourcing.”
“We’re going on a long march to the Korean Embassy because Samsung employs many workers with the outsourcing method,” president of Confederation of Indonesian Trade Union (KSPI) Said Iqbal said.
The union planned to hold a rally outside the Japanese Embassy before moving to the National Police headquarters to protest the arrest of demonstrators, Said said.
Under Indonesia’s outsourcing system, employees are contracted to work for a company by a third-party agency. Although they work alongside regular employees, outsourced workers often lack access to health care, holiday pay and pension funds.
Labor unions and workers’ rights groups call the practice unfair. But business associations argue that it is needed to meet spikes in demand and remain competitive in a global economy.
The Ministry of Manpower and Transmigration announced plans to issue a regulation limiting the use of outsourced labor in October amid large labor protests. Under the new regulations, only companies engaged in the cleaning, security, transportation, catering, oil, gas and mining industries can hire outsourced workers.
The Indonesian Employers Association (Apindo) argued that the outsourcing system cannot be completely dismantled.
“No other countries in the world has fully ended the outsourcing system,” Sutomo, chairman of the Bekasi chapter of Apindo, said. “Outsourcing is needed by companies, but it should be limited and supervised.”
Jakarta Police assigned more than 8,000 officers to secure the protest, according to spokesman Sr. Comr. Rikwanto.
“It is predicted that the number of people rallying at the Hotel Indonesia traffic circle and embassies could reach 7,500 people,” he said.
The Jakarta Traffic Police warned commuters to avoid roads near the Hotel Indonesia traffic circle, the National Monument (Monas), the National Police headquarters and the embassies.