Indonesian Muslim and union groups to fight new jobs law in court

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JAKARTA: Indonesian President Joko Widodo came under increasing pressure to repeal his new controversial labor law on Friday with union and Muslim groups preparing to challege it in court and some regional leaders publicly opposing the legislation.

The KSPI labor group, among the organizers of three-day national strikes ending Thursday, is preparing to lodge a case against the new law in the Constitutional Court, the group’s president Said Iqbal said in a statement.
Nahdlatul Ulama, Indonesia’s biggest Muslim group with millions of followers, would also challenge the law in the court, it said in its official Twitter account.

The “omnibus” jobs creation bill, passed into law on Monday, has seen thousands of people across the world’s fourth-most populous nation take to the streets in protest, saying it undermines labor rights and weakens environmental protections.

Clashes erupted in some cities on Thursday, including in the capital Jakarta where protesters burnt public transport facilities and damaged police posts.
At least five regional leaders, including the governors of Jakarta and the country’s most populous province West Java, have said they would pass on protersters’ demand to the president or publicly opposed the law
Repealing the law would prevent further clashes “that could create prolong instability amid a pandemic and an economic recession,” West Kalimantan Govenor Sutarmidji said in a statement.

The president has yet to make any public statement, but his ministers have defended the law, saying protests were triggered by false news and that the legislation would improve people’s welfare by welcoming more investment.
Jakarta police on Thursday detained about 1,000 demonstrators, but most of them were released by Friday morning, Jakarta police spokesman Yusri Yunus said.

Police did not expect a fourth day of protests in the capital on Friday, he said.

However, trade union KSBSI on Friday called on its members to launch another wave of protests from Oct. 12 to 16.

A meeting of many other labor groups is scheduled over the weekend to consolidate their next move, Ilhamsyah of KPBI labor union told Reuters.
Jakarta resident Nathan Tarigan feared clashes would escalate.

“I’m afraid if the government and stakeholders of the state aren’t wise, don’t want to listen, something bigger can happen and the state can break,” the 50-year-old said.

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