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PAPUA: Striking Freeport Workers March To Timika

July 6, 2011

The Jakarta Post
Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Striking Freeport Workers March To Timika

Nethy Dharma Somba, The Jakarta Post, Jayapura

Thousands of PT Freeport Indonesia workers, engaged in a work stoppage
for a second day, occupied a checkpoint in Kuala Kencana.

The number of workers involved in the labor 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, 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 Labor 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.

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