Monthly Archives: September 2011

Four Papuan students acquitted of makar charges in Manokwari

From Tapol

Four Papuan students acquitted of makar charges

According to report received today from the defence team of five Papuan students from UNIPA university, four of the five men have been acquitted by a court in Manokwari and will be released immediately.

They had faced the charge of makar – subversion – in connection with
their involvement in an event to mark the anniversary of the
proclamation of the Independence of the Republic of West Melanesia on
14 December last year.

The four acquitted men are Alex Duwiri, John Wilson Wader, Penehas
Serongan and Yance Sekeyab.

The fifth student, John Raweyai, who had jumped onto the platform to
speak on the issue was found guilty and sentenced to nine months, with
deduction for the time already served in detention.

Yan Christian Warinussy, a member of the defence team, described the
acquittal as a courageous decision by the panel of judges. He said that the men were the victims of mistaken arrest and investigation by the police who took them into custody.

Freeport Mine Managers turn rabid on Indonesian Grasberg Strikers

Grasberg mine
Image via Wikipedia

PT Freeport Mine Managers Turn Rabid on Indonesian Grasberg Strikers
26 September 2011

ICEM InBrief

Government-mediated talks broke off last week and labour relations further soured between Freeport-McMoRan and 8,000 striking Indonesian miners of ICEM affiliate FSP-KEP (SPSI), the Trade Union of Chemical, Energy, and Mine Workers (CEMWU). The PT Freeport Indonesia Workers’ Union this week meets the halfway mark of its 30-day strike that now could be prolonged at the world’s largest gold and third largest copper mining complex – Freeport McMoRan’s Grasberg mine in eastern Papua Province, New Guinea Island.

Management spite was apparent at the strike’s start on 15 September and it worsened following the breakdown of three days of talks with the Manpower Ministry in Jakarta on 22 September. PT Freeport managers relieved 138 union shop stewards of their job duties on Friday. The union responded by stating the strike likely will be extended beyond 15 October.

Since the wage, pension, and community funds strike started, managers have coerced workers to return to work with threats of dismissal, they have pressed contractors’ employees into production, and now they try to decimate the union by sacking union stewards and isolating the branch union’s other leaders.

PT Freeport management has attempted to coerce workers to sign a statement saying they will return to work or face getting fired. But despite this, only 500 workers are manning operations and many are staff of contractors. (See a list of contractorshere.)

Freeport-McMoRan last week issued a statement last week saying it was losing three million pounds of copper production daily, and 5,000 ounces of lost gold output daily. To increase pressure on miners to abandon the strike, the company also warned of lost revenues to the Indonesian government and to the seven native groups around Timika, Papua, that Freeport-McMoRan is obliged to support.

The opening salvo came at the strike’s outset when Managing Director Armando Mahler announced a “no-work, no-pay” policy. After last week’s mediation failure, union and government sources said “complete distrust” exists between Mahler and his team and the union.

Thus, PT Freeport Indonesia Workers’ Union asked that US-based Freeport-McMoRan Chairman James Moffett enter discussions. Mine union leaders remember Moffett’s visit a few years ago when he encouraged workplace leaders to engage in “win-win” principles of labour relations.

At last week’s mediation, PT Freeport, 91% owned by Freeport-McMoRan and 9% by Indonesia’s government, said it would not budge from a wage offer of 11% in each year of a two-year accord. (The bi-annual contract comes due on 1 October.) The average miner’s wage rate at Grasberg is US$1.50-per-hour. The union was seeking a doubling of that to US$3-an-hour but in mediation last week, the FSP-KEP miners’ branch union offered a compromise and proposed a 65% increase. The company would not move from 11%.

It has offered slight increases in education and housing support and in shift pay, but has said it would not deviate from wage increments that other foreign investors pay in Indonesia. It also refuses to base a pension scheme – 50% paid into by workers – on multiplied years of service, or hear the union’s demands for enhanced development and opportunities for the indigenous people of Papua.

Grasberg is Freeport-McMoRan’s biggest revenue maker and a year ago, the company’s chief financial officer called it “very low cost and a high cash flow generating asset with a very long life.” The company’s revenues this year from Grasberg are expected to be lower because it is mining lower-grade sections of the open pit mine. But Freeport-McMoRan is bullish on the future; it is developing a deep underground mine adjacent to Grasberg that contains high grades of copper and gold in the same ore body.

The ICEM has intervened in this dispute and through its Indonesian Affiliates’ Union Chairman, D. Patombong Sjaiful of FSP-KEP’s CEMWU, is giving direct aid and support to the Grasberg strikers. They need the solidarity and support of all miners and all trade unions in mining and other industrial sectors. Please send a short message in your own words to the PT Freeport Indonesia Workers’ Union.

In ICEM outreach to the union, when asked to characterise the strike, one officer responded by saying, “determination. That’s the one word that describes workers. We’re determined to change our future through the work we do for this company.”

Reports of Securicor being used to break the Freeport strike

JUBI 21 September 2011

There are allegations about [multinational private security corporation] SecuriCor led [at Freeport] by someone called Ian Church being involved in intimidating workers. This follows in the wake of an argument which almost led to a physical fight between the security forces and sucuricore.

Virgo Solossa who heads the organisational division of SPSI, the union of Freeport workers, said yesterday that there were indications that Securicore would be used to spread propaganda to persuade the workers to return to work in Tembagapura.

‘We know that this is going on at the moment and it seems that they will be deployed at post 32 Kuala Kencana, at post 28 in Bandara Moses Kilangin Timika, as post 26 in Gorong-Gorong, and at posts 38 and 50.

‘We have passed this information to the workers and have urged all those who are involved in the strike not be influenced by these activities which may be intended to stir up emotions.’ said Solossa.

Nevertheless, on Wednesday at around 7am, there was an argument that led to a physical confrontation which was prevented from becoming more heated because of the intervention of Brimob troops. As a result, some members of Freeport security ran back to their post in Bandara Moses Kilangin. But according to JUBI sources, more fighting followed although it didn’t last long and no one was injured. on either side.

It is well known that some workers employed by Freeport-Indonesia who are contracted to work once every three months have been involved in these activities and they are required not to reveal their identities, either to other Freeport workers or to the public. Nevertheless these securicore forces have been deployed during the strike, although the reason for this is not known.

Any attempts to get information about this from the Freeport management would be very difficult indeed, as we have learnt from past experience, wrote JUBI.

These forces are reportedly doing things that are beyond their authority. There were some instances of attacks being made on the barracks where the workers sleep in an attempt to get them to go down to Timika (ie, to return to work).

After an incident that occurred today, Deny Abrianto, chief security of Freeport, took action against the workers for them to be immediately sacked and sent home. There was also a report that a senior manager, Simon Petrus Morin, was given a warning, that is to say he was order to go home. There were no disciplinary actions taken against Ian Church by the management.

It has not been possible to obtain further information from the CorComm (?) of Freeport-Indonesia.

[COMMENT: What comes across from this article in JUBI points to the use of private security forces to force the workers to end the strike. TAPOL]

Union makes move to end Freeport strike

JUBI, 23 September 2011

Trade union SPSI writes to Moffet in a move to end the strike

SPSI, the trade union of Freeport workers, has finally decided to write to the top executive of Freeport-McMoran in the US via the intermediary of Silas Natkime (who is referred to as the ‘bugnagel’ which means the ‘host’) after realising that there is not likely to be any settlement of the strike at the Freeport mine because the management of PT Freeport Indonesia has not shown any goodwill to resolve the problem.

Chairman of organisational affairs of the union, Virgo Solossa, said that the decision to write to the top management was taken at a meeting with the bugnegal at the Nemangkawi Institute of Mining in Kuala Kencana today.

‘We have drafted the letter and given it to the bugnegel to be forwarded to Moffet for negotiations to take place. Until we get a reply from Moffet, we will not return to work. This is our final move and we hope that this will bring about an end to the strike,’ he said.

Solossa said that this did not mean that they were handing the issue over to the bugnegel. Everything would be handled jointly, but this was because it is only the bugnegel whose help could be sought to resolve the dispute.

The request to the bugnegel is for Moffet to make recommendations as soon as possible. When approached, the bugnegel expressed his willingness to help facilitate a resolution to the strike with the FI management.

With regard to reports that a number of employees working for the contractor at Mill Operation and Underground as well as at Grasberg have gone back to work, Solossa said the union had decided to hold a peaceful demonstration. ‘We plan to approach the police and the labour service about this plan for a demonstration. This is mainly in connection with our criticism of actions taken that do not comply with the laws in force in this country. This is particularly with regard to some remarks made by a foreign member of staff which we regard as not complying with the laws in force in this country.’

According to Solossa, the actions taken by the management since the start of the strike have failed to respect the laws of this country. But Solossa was not in a position to say when this demonstration would take place. According to Solossa, ‘the demonstration will be held together with other components in society, such as the youth, students and school-children.

The news from Tembagapura is that workers at the Mill Operation and Underground factory as well as at Grasberg went back to work last night. These are workers on contract with PT Buma, Intinaker, Inamco, Visvires and PT Trakindo.

‘Production at the Mill Operation has been going on since last night, but the products cannot be sent to Portsite because they are not of the correct density,’ according to a JUBI source who works at Mill Operation. The same source at Grasberg said: ‘There is some production by contract workers of PT Trakindo, Buma and Grasberg.’

Current condition of tapol Kimanus Wenda and funds needed for operation and travel costs

Received from Solidaritas Korban Pelanggaran HAM Papua (Solidarity for Victims of Human Rights in Papua)
[Translated by TAPOL]

Papuan prisoners continue to be subject to discrimination in a number of ways such as the lack of finance, the lack of access to health facilities and racist insults against Papuan people. There are no NGOs, church groups or individuals who are regularly monitoring the situation of Tapols/Napols [this differentiates between political and non-political prisoners in Papua] who are currently in prison in Papua.

Take the example of Filep Karma who was for nine months left unattended in Dok II Hospital in Jayapura, in 2010. Ferdinan Pakage was tortured and sustained permanent injuries in his right eye from a prison official in Abe Prison, Abepura, in 2008. And most recently, Kimanus Wenda who, according to the recommendation of a doctor, needs to have operation for a tumour in the abdomen, but there has been no response from the prison officials in Nabire prison. He was even shackled with handcuffs and kept in an isolation ward in May 2011

The condition of Kimanus Wenda in Nabire Prison is now critical; he has been vomiting because of the tumour. Last Thursday at 12 midnight, he was vomiting and so dizzy that he urged an official to be transferred to hospital but this was refused. [precise meaning of a sentence in the text here is unclear]. Although he had asked to be transferred to Jayapura a number of times as recommended by the doctor, there was no response from the officials at the prison.

In view of the present condition of Kimanus Wenda, the SKPHP had a meeting with the Kanwil (?) and then with the Papua department of law and human rights [Depkum HAM Papua] on 19 September. However, the head of Depkum HAM, Daniel informed his family of a number of conditions:

* A guarantee from the family
* A formal request from the family
* A statement from Nabire Hospital
* Confirmation from the doctor
* A request for police to provide guards.

Solidaritas Korban said that it was prepared to find all these documents and that his family would provide the funds but only for a ticket for Kimanus to make the journey from Nabire to Wamena, meaning that funding for the guards was the responsibility of the state.

On 19 September, Solidaritas Korban had a meeting with Kontras Papua at which the following was agreed:

A division of tasks regarding the documents required.
We would need to raise money for the journey by two persons to Nabire
We would find the money for the stay in hospital, the operation and other requirements after Kimanus was in Jayapura
Information about these decisions would remain confidential.

Once the money for the tickets was available, Solidaritas Korban would:

Lobby the doctor.
Issue a press release
Seek contributions from the general public out in the streets
Lobby for funds to cover the costs of the hospital stay, the operation, the tickets to Nabire and so on.

The amount of money required is as follows:

Rp 1,347,000 x 2 for a total of Rp 2,694,000 for one-way tickets.
Airport tax and local transport, Rp 1,000,000
Solidaritas Korban transport costs incurred to handle arrangements for Kimanus
The total amount of money needed: is Rp 4,694,000

Jayapura, 19 September 2011
Solidaritas Korban Pelanggaran HAM Papua