Striking Indonesian mine workers occupy checkpoint

Yesterday's long march

The Indonesian mine workers' strike, which was born on Monday 4th July and is demanding both the reinstatement of sacked co-workers as well as a 100% pay increase, is intensifying as thousands of PT Freeport Indonesia workers, engaged in a work stoppage for a second day, occupied a checkpoint in Kuala Kencana in Indonesia's Papua province yesterday.

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The number of workers involved in the labour action increased compared to the previous day after thousands of workers marched from Tembagapura to Timika, the capital of Mimika regency, arrived at checkpoint 1 in Kuala Kencana in the early hours of Tuesday (July 5), with some in poor health.

“Some of our friends were taken to hospital after they collapsed,” a Freeport employee, speaking on condition of anonymity, said.

As thousands of the picketing workers assembled, Sudiro, Obed Lolo, Juli Perorongan, Frans Okoseray, Albar Sabang and Subianto from the Freeport Indonesia chapter of the All Indonesia Labuor Union (SPSI) central leadership board, Sinta Airait, Simon Morin, Anderson Worobay and John Rumainum from the Freeport management and Mimika Manpower Agency head Dionisius Mameyao attended a closed-door meeting at the OB1 office in Kuala Kencana.

In a text message to The Jakarta Post, Freeport spokesman Ramdani Sirait said that as part of the work stoppage on July 4, many workers used the mining road for their long march, despite calls by the management not to do so as it was dangerous.

“The company provided 60 buses and food and drinks for the workers for their march, but the workers turned down our offer,” Ramdani wrote in the text message.

He added that Freeport also provided medical services. “All the workers who required medical attention have now left the health facility.”

Ramdani said the company was engaged in talks with SPSI leaders to resolve the issue in the best interests of both parties.

The local and provincial administrations, as well as the central government, have received reports on the latest situation, while the transportation of concentrates has not been affected so far.

Papua governor Barnabas Suebu expressed hope that both parties would seek an immediate solution.

“The issue can be discussed internally between workers and the management. I think it’s normal if workers stage a rally to demand a salary hike,” he said.

Suebu added that the government would hold further talks with Freeport so that in the future its presence would bring real benefits to the local people and government.

Papua Police chief Insp. Gen. Bekto Suprapto urged workers not to resort to “anarchy”.

He expressed hope that both parties would arrive at a mutually beneficial solution. “A work stoppage would be unfavorable for the company as well as the workers,” he added.

The work stoppage launched by Freeport employees, most of whom work in the production unit, was part of their proposed one week strike in protest at the recent firing of six of their colleagues.

They are also demanding a pay rise from US$1.50 per hour to $3 per hour, saying they were paid very low rates compared to employees in other units of Freeport McMoran, who receive on average $15 per hour.

- from here.