Daily Archives: October 8, 2011

Papuan provincial assembly’s recommendations regarding the Freeport dispute

Bintang Papua, 6 October 2011
[Abridged in translation by TAPOL]

Jayapura: The efforts being made by the DPRP (the Papuan provincial legislative assembly) to persuade the CEO of Freeport Indonesia to attend a meeting between the trade union, the SPSI, and related organisations, have apparently failed. The CEO Armanda Mahler was not present at the meeting.

According to the chairman of Commission A of the DPRP, the meeting discussed the wages  of the Freeport workforce and made several recommendations.The first was that the DPRP, the provincial legislative assembly, should set up a special team to visit the location of the mine in Tembagapura. The second was a decision to write to the management asking the company to stop recruiting new workers as well as other steps that are harmful to the workforce. The third was to call on the Indonesian government, via the intermediary of the US embassy in Jakarta to approach the major shareholder, James Robert Moffet to be held to account for the conflict between the company and the workforce.

Asked about the failure of Moffet to attend the meeting, the DPRP member said that this revealed the arrogance of the American side towards the Indonesian government for not respecting the views of other parties. ‘Our spirits have not been dimmed,’ he said, ‘as we are voicing the aspirations of the Papuan people.’

Meanwhile, the spokesman for the SPSI Julius Pororongan, together with the chairman of PUK-SPSI, told the press after  the meting that efforts to recruit new workers was a blatant violation of Law 13/2003 on labour relations, because the company is not allowed to recruit workers while workers are on strike.

It also appears that  since the start of the strike by the Freeport workforce, an accident occurred at the mine but the identities of the two casualties  are not known. The union said that if they were able to obtain the names of the two casualties, they would announce them to the press.

The union rejects any mediation because the proposal for mediation does not take into account the call for a 25 percent (sic) increase in wages. Our demands, he said, are based on a number of factors. Firstly, the capacity of the company and secondly it income, and thirdly it should take account of the need for compensation for the risks involve in the work, and fourthly, it should take account of inflation.Fifthly it should take account of  the educational level  and work experiences. He said that the union had held meetings with the MPR and the DPRPand hopes that the provincial government  will pay attention to the special autonomy law because the company falls under the authority of this law. While both the company and the workforce are major assets , it is hoped that the government will work together witl all the relevant components  and will seriously  recognise that  the company has been responsible for many violations by sacking workers for no legitimate reason and has intimidated the workers.

‘They hve intimidated our wives and children by sending them sms messages. This is very inhumane because our wives stay at home and dont know anything about what is happening in these industrial relations. The union has suggested that the company should stop violating the stipulations of the Industrial Relations Court .If the labour contracts remain in force a whole year, this means there will be no increase in wages, which will greatly benefit Freeport.’

He said that their efforts in their communications with the MRP and the DPRP as well as with the government were intended to get the government to deal with the problem more speedily.’It is not our intention to destroy the company,’ he said. ‘On the contrary, we want to persuade the company to acknowledge the workers living conditions within the  framework of better industrial relations so as to avoid  the emergence of new problems that occur when peopl are arbitrarily sacked .

Thousands expected to attend Third Papuan People’s Congress

Bintang Papua, 6 October 2011Jayapura: The Third Papuan People’s Congress is due to commence in a week’s time. According to Selpius Bobii, chairman of the organising committee and Forkorus, Yaboisembut, chairman of DAP, the Papuan Traditional Council, a number of international personalities have been invided, including Kofi Annan, former general-secretary of the United Nations, and US Congressman Eni Faleomavaega, chairman of the Asia-Pacific Sub-Committee of the US Congress. But as yet, there has been no response to these inviations.’Although we know for sure that Congressman Faleomaveaga will not be able to attend,  he suggested that we should also invite Ban Ki-Moon, which we have done.’

Other persons who have been invited from abroad are waiting to see whether they will be issued with visas by the Indonesian embassy in their country.

The event which is now drawing near will, according to Selpius Bobii, be the uppermost forum of the Papuan people for the adoption of decisions on a number of agenda items, and some of the participants have already arrived. These are from components or organisations, youth groups and women’s groups, the TPN/OPM, traditional groups and others. ‘They will have the right to vote,’ he said..

No final decision has yet been taken about the venue of the event which is likely to be attended by tens of thousands of people. ”If three places that have been approached cannot be used, we will have to hold it on Theys Square. With regard to the  possibility that some people may  want to fly the morning star flag during the event, all we can do is to make suggestions. We have asked people not to fly the morning star flag, which people may acknowledge. Let’s hope they will listen to what we say.’

AFP: Freeport Workers in Papua Vow to Paralyze Production

Agence France-Presse
October 7, 2011

Freeport Workers in Indonesia Vow to Halt Production

Workers at one of the world’s largest gold and copper mine in the
remote Indonesian province of Papua vowed on Friday to paralyze
production, as their strike over pay enters its second month.

Workers at the Grasberg mining complex run by US giant
Freeport-McMoran began a month long strike on September 15, demanding
at least an eight-fold increase in the current minimum wage of $1.50
an hour.

“If we don’t get the pay increase we want, our goal is to stop
production by November 15,” said Virgo Solossa, spokesman for the
workers’ union, which extended the strike by a month on Thursday.

“Freeport has tried to intimidate us to go back to work, but we won’t
until they are open to a fair negotiation,” he said, adding that at
least 8,000 of the company’s 23,000 workers would remain on strike.

The Arizona-based company said it was “disappointed” by the union’s
decision, “which has no basis under Indonesian law.”

It added that some workers were gradually returning to work, “allowing
the company to scale up mine production, milling production and
concentrate sales.”

Production at Grasberg, one of the world’s largest sources of gold and
copper, has suffered considerably since the strike.

Production in the first week of the strike last month was slashed by
230,000 tons a day, representing daily losses of $6.7 million in
government revenue.

Slowing production at Grasberg, coupled with a spate of strikes at
Freeport’s South American mines, has raised concerns of a global
copper shortage, analysts said.

Freeport’s Papuan workers, who are mostly indigenous Melanesians,
receive the lowest wages of any Freeport mining facility in the world,
according to union workers.

The current lowest wage is $1.50 an hour, which workers want raised to
$12.50, the union said. The workers want the maximum hourly rate of
$3.50 to rise to $37.

The union had originally demanded a minimum of $17.50 and a maximum of $43.

“We have followed all the right procedures to strike, which is our
right. So we hope the company will make a fairer offer soon,” Solossa,
the union spokesman, said.

The company has offered a 25 percent increase on wages, which the
union rejected.

Freeport Indonesia is the largest single taxpayer to the Indonesian
government, contributing billions of dollars a year to state coffers.