Three hundred Freeport workers ordered home

Bintang  Papua, 14 October 2011Freeport orders 300 workers to ‘go home’

Timika: Reports that workers at Freeport have intimidated and threatened  other workers for refusing to take part in demonstrations and not wanting to go on strike have led to around three hundred Freeport workers being order to go home [dirumahkan’], according to the management of Freeport-Indonesia. Sixty of the three hundred  are staff-level employees joined the strike that commenced on 15 September.

The president-director and CEO of Freeport, Armando Mahler in Timika said on Thursday that the decision to order them home  was taken because they  were involved in intimidating workers who remained at work  and did not join the strike. ‘At the time, many of of the workers felt afraid and threatened. They fled from their barracks and went into hiding. The families of some of the workers who continued to work were also warned that their homes would be burnt down,’  said Armando.

He went on to say that after the strike is over and operations at the Freeport return to normal, the management intends to conduct an investigation to determine what mistakes each of the workers who were ordered home  had made.

Additionally, the director-executive, vice-president  and chief office administrator of the Freeport, Sinta Sirait, said that the decision to order home hundreds of workers meant that the third summons [see below] issued to non-staff employees who had joined the strike was in accordance with the Joint Working Agreement which had been agreed with the workers trade union, the SPSI.

Sinta called on all sides to respect the terms of the agreement that had been reached and not treat it as nothing more than a lip service. ‘We urge the workers not to think that being ordered home and then returning to work is only about establishing good industrial relations with the company.’

Another  manager of the company, John Rumainum said that in a spirit of goodwill, the company had called on the workers to return to work. The first summons was issued on 26 September,  followed by the second summons issued on 29 September and the third summons issued on 4 October.

He went on to say: ‘Those workers who returned to work before the third summons will be exempt from any sanctions But those who returned to work after the third summons, would be treated in accordance with the regulations…

He then said that all the sanctions issued by the company  would be reviewed, once the workers had returned to work.

[Translated and slightly abridged by TAPOL]

[COMMENT: This report reveals the attitude of the company towards hundreds of its employees who were clearly seeking to improve their working conditions during a strike that has been marked by  persistent threats from the company that runs one of the foremost and most profitable mines in the world. TAPOL]

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