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On IWD women workers call for ratification of ILO convention, end to sexual harassment

BBC Indonesia - March 8, 2018

Almost one thousand women workers from the IndustriALL Indonesia Council Women's Committee commemorated International Women's Day (IWD) on the road in front of the House of Representatives (DPR) in Jakarta on Thursday March 8.

One of the protesters, Indah Saptorini, said that the action was aimed at demanding that the government immediately ratify International Labour Organisation (ILO) Convention Number 183 on the Maternity Protection.

As reported by Hilman Handoni for BBC Indonesia, the peaceful action was joined by various different groups, non-government organisations and trade unions from various parts of greater Jakarta.

Under the ILO convention, the government would be obliged to provide 14 weeks maternal leave. "Up until now in Indonesia we only get 12 weeks", said Indah.

The reality, Indah said, is that many women workers who are pregnant or give birth are sacked, "Their bargaining position is also weak because of their status as outsourced workers", she added.

Jumisih from the Women Workers Corner meanwhile said that her group supports this demand. "Companies intimidate women so they do not demand their right to menstrual and maternity leave, places to breastfeed", she explained during a break in the action.

Her group is also calling for an end to sexual harassment and violence against women workers. "We did some research in the Cakung Bonded Zone last October. We found 25 cases of harassment in 15 companies", she said.

Jumisih is convinced that this is less than the actual number of cases. The forms of sexual harassment range from tweets, peeping to touching she said.

According to Labour Law Number 13/2003, women workers have the right to equal wages, the right to breastfeed, two days menstrual leave, three months maternity leave, security guarantees and protection against sexual harassment.

One women worker named Ika, who works at a motorcycle spare parts factory in Tangerang, Banten province, said that she has just returned from maternity leave. "I got three months", she said adding that all of her wages were paid in full.

Nevertheless, she said, like other pregnant women workers, they should be given leave long before they actually give birth.

"Leave must be taken exactly seven months after (becoming pregnant)", so automatically the time with a new born baby is less than three months. This is the reason she joined the IWD rally.

Although labour regulations stipulate that women have the right to menstrual leave every month, in many factories it is not as simple as that.

"In Batam [Riau Islands], there's a factory that instructs its security officers to examine the menstrual blood of women workers. Although they are women (the security personnel) it's still uncomfortable", added Indah.

"There are also factories that apply a policy of examinations before menstruation [leave is granted] or that [require] a doctor's certificate".

But there are also more specific problems, "It is very difficult if we want to go to the toilet. We have the queue", said one of the women workers at the action. Generally there are fewer women's toilets, although they are the same size as men's toilets, said some of the protesters.

The groups also noted that women still face many other problems such as prohibitions on joining a trade union and restrictions on time to organise.

As afternoon approached, the rally in front of the DPR ended and some of the protesters moved off to the State Palace in Central Jakarta to articulate the same demands.

[Translated by James Balowski for the Indoleft News Service. Some text in this article was abridged or moved due to repetition. The original title of the article was Hari Perempuan Internasional, seribu perempuan buruh tuntut '14 minggu cuti melahirkan'.]

Source: http://www.bbc.com/indonesia/indonesia-39202145.

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