Energy Privatization in Indonesia After the Constitutional Court Ruling, the entire Omnibus Law should be suspended
Thousands of energy workers in Indonesia have undertaken historic action to reject the privatization of electricity and defend the principal of energy as a public need, to be owned, controlled, and provided by the state.
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Workers from three energy unions - Serikat Pekerja PT Perusahaan Listrik Negara (SP PLN), Persatuan Pegawai Indonesia Power (PP IP), and Serikat Pekerja PT Pembangkitan Jawa Bali (SP PJB) gathered to protest the Indonesian government’s controversial Job Creation Law as it was challenged in the Constitutional Court.
Allied in the National Prosperity Movement (Gerakan Kesejahteraan Nasional - GEKANAS), the SP PLN Group is at the forefront of a movement rejecting attempts to privatize electricity which will badly impact both workers and the public, as has happened so often in other countries.
SP PLN Chairperson M. Abrar Ali delivered a speech during the action on Thursday, 25 November, stressing the connection of their cause to issues of national independence.
“Today, we take off our white and blue collar. We are the same. Because our trade unions task is not only protecting workers and members’ interest. But more than that, protecting the interest of the state and nation,” stated Abrar.
“It is the state’s task to protect the Indonesian people and their land. Educating the people and advancing general public prosperity. That is why we gather today,” he stated firmly.
It is the state’s task to protect the Indonesian people and their land.
During the rally, workers held banners with messages including, ‘Because of Job Creation Law, Electricity will be Privatized’, ‘Reject State Electricity Privatization Regardless of the Reasons’, and ‘Don’t Make People’s Life Miserable’.
Constitutional Court Confusion
The Constitutional Court has ruled the Job Creation Law conditionally unconstitutional and gave the government two years to amend it. But the law will remain in force until it is amended. Reacting to the ruling, the General Secretary of PPIP and chair of the PSI National Coordinating Committee, Andy Wijaya, compared the situation to telling the driver of a car deemed unroadworthy that they still had two years to drive the car until they must get it repaired.
If the car has already been deemed dangerous before it has been repaired, why should the driver be allowed to drive it all? This is the confusing logic that has been applied to the Job Creation Law, leading Wijaya to declare that the next step is to file a citizen lawsuit against the government if within two years the Law and its implementing regulation is still being enacted.
If the car has already been deemed dangerous before it has been repaired, why should the driver be allowed to drive it all?
Further confusion lies in the Constitutional Court ruling that the government must not issue new ‘implementing regulation’ relating to the Job Creation Law during this time period, which can be interpreted in a variety of ways. The ruling also prevents the state from implementing ‘strategic policy’ with a ‘wider impact’.
The question is: What does the court mean by ‘strategic policy’ and ‘wider impact’? For workers, the meaning is all regulation related to wages, contract workers, outsourcing, severance, termination, foreign workers, the workday and leave. This includes provisions that will enable electricity to be privatized.
Therefore, the most consistent and fair approach based on the Constitutional Courts legal considerations and demanded by workers is to call off the implementation of all the law and the privatization that comes with it.
Addendum: SP PLN Group's Position
On Monday 6 December a joint press conference was held by the PLN Group Trade Union (SP PLN Group) consisting of the Trade Union of State Electricity Enterprises (SP PLN), the Indonesia Power Employee Association (PPIP), and the Trade Union of Java-Bali Power Plant (SP PJB), expressing their disappointment about the government's decision to continue implementing the Job Creation Law.
Responding to the ruling, the SP PLN Group stated its position as follow:
Appreciating and respecting the Constitutional Court ruling stating that the making of Job Creation Law is unconstitutional although conditionally.
Disappointed by the Government as they keep stating that the Job Creation Law and its implementing regulation still into effect for two years.
Requesting all parties to understand and implement all point of the Constitutional Court Ruling for the decision number 91/PUU-XVIII/2020 related to Law Number 11 Year 2020 on Job Creation.
Referring to the ruling point Number 7 of the decision Number 91/PUU-XVIII/2020 urge the Government and Judicial Institutions to not implement the government decree as the implementing regulation for the Job Creation Law which are strategic and invasive or having a broad impact.
Especially for the manpower cluster and sub-cluster electricity, where the appeal of SP PLN Group considered as lost its object, so by this affirmed that the Job Creation Law, especially manpower cluster and sub-cluster electricity is not into effect and postpone its implementation for two years.
SP PLN Group will keep trying to do follow up action to revoke the Job Creation law permanently and will take any necessary legal action, should there any parties keep implementing the Job Creation Law and its implementing regulation before being amended.