Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Employees of Freeport mine threaten strike

National News - April 13, 2007

Markus Makur, The Jakarta Post, Timika

Employees of gold and copper mining giant PT Freeport Indonesia threatened Thursday to stage a peaceful strike next Wednesday, urging company management to pay more attention to their welfare, especially with regard to wages and benefits.

Their demands include employee development for native Papuan employees and are the result of discussions with Tongoi Papua, an informal organization that facilitates communication between any company and native Papuan employees.

Tongoi Papua chairman Frans Pigome told reporters at the Mimika Police station he was coordinating the strike with the help of local police.

He said Tongoi Papua representatives had met with PT Freeport management three times and that they had been left no other choice but to strike.

"We met again with PT Freeport management on April 5, but by April 6, which was our deadline, we had still received no response," Pigome said.

"Our aspirations are not only for Papuan employees -- we are interested in supporting change for all employees.

"We've met with PT Freeport's association of Indonesian workers, which fully supports our plan to go on strike," he said.

But PT Freeport spokesman Mindo Pangaribuan said Thursday Tongoi Papua submitted a report from the Tongoi Papua convention to PT Freeport management and that the company had delivered a response through the correct industrial relations channels.

This response was in line with PT Freeport's industrial relations efforts and their commitment to all employees, Mindo said in a statement.

"Wages and benefits are among the main topics of discussion with the workers' union, as provided under the prevailing legislation," Mindo said.

He said PT Freeport Indonesia was committed to continually advancing its native Papuan employees and ensuring numbers of native Papuan employees occupying senior positions within the organization grows.

"To this end, the company is to run two programs for native Papuans -- a new graduate program and an apprenticeship program at the Nemangkawi Mining Institute," he said.

The programs will focus on the selection and development of native Papuans with the potential and skills to succeed in professional work.

Mindo said in the last 10 years, the native Papuan workforce at PT Freeport had increased significantly.

In 1996, there were approximately 800 native Papuan employees and by January 2007, this number had climbed to more than 3,000, including apprentice program participants at the Nemangkawi Mining Institute, Mindo said.

"This meets the commitment PTFI made back in 1996, but these efforts will continue, because that commitment long ago became basic policy."


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