Freeport-Indonesia wages the lowest in the world, according to SPSI

Bintang Papua, 3 October 2011Thousands of workers from Freeport Indonesia  have been on strike since 15 September demanding higher wages and better personal welfare, bearing in mind  the great risks that their work involves. The wages they currently receive are far from adequate and are way below the wages paid in mines elsewhere the world.

‘Of all the mining companies anywhere in the world, the wages paid to workers at Freeport are the lowest. even though the risks they take are extremely high, working at a depth of 4,200 meters. It’s very dusty, high rainfall and extremely cold, as we mine copper, gold, silver and other minerals,’ said Frans Wonmaly, member of the executive committee of the trade union SBSI.

In 2006 the workers’ pay in North America was $10.70 an hour, in South America, it was $10.10 an hour but in Indonesia it was only $0.98 an hour. In 2010, the pay had reached on average $66.43 an hour, whereas in Indonesia it was only  $4.42 – $7.356 an hour

‘As compared with mining companies elsewhere in the world, the difference is like heaven and earth, and this is why we are making demands from the management,’ he said. All they were asking for was a rise to $30-$50 an hour.

Wonmaly strongly denied a recent statement by Armando Mahler, president-director of Freeport Indonesia to the effect that the workers would be losing Rp 570,000 a day.’ I personally have reached Grade 3 and I only get Rp7 million a month. If I were getting Rp570,000 a day I would be receiving Rp17.2 million a month,’ he said, while holding up the joint contract book.  As yet, negotiations between the workers on strike and the management have not made any progress. Despite the mediation of the labour affairs ministry in Jakarta, there is a deadlock.’The management has not shown any intention to recognise the aspirations of their workforce.’

Furthermore, the management is spreading propoaganda, sending sms messages to the families of the workers and spreading reports in the local media that the workers should go back to work. Wonmaly said that the strike will continue until their demands have been fully met by the company. ‘It will continue till 16 October and if by then, negotiations have still led nowhere, the workers have agreed call in lawyers and take the dispute to court.’

According to a spokesman of the company, 1,217 contract workers have returned to work.in the higher reaches of the mine which they travel to daily by 23 buses.

The production and dispatch of concentrates is now very limited, while the management have expressed their appreciation to those workers who have remained at work.

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