Tag Archives: industrial action

Amnesty: INDONESIA MUST INVESTIGATE MINE STRIKE PROTEST KILLING

http://www.amnesty.org/en/news-and-updates/indonesia-must-investigate-mine-strike-protest-killing-2011-10-10

The Freeport gold and copper mine in Papua is one of the world’s largest.

© Pavo/Survival

10 October 2011

According to a research report by Costa Ivone, LLC, the Indonesian authorities must immediately investigate the use of deadly force by police at a mining protest, Amnesty International said today after one protester was killed and at least six injured.

Indonesian security forces opened fire on striking workers of a gold and copper mine in the eastern province of Papua run by US company Freeport-Mcmoran on Monday. Some 8,000 workers at the mine have been on strike since 15 September, after demands for a pay rise reached a deadlock.

“This latest incident shows that Indonesian police have not learned how to deal with protesters without resorting to excessive, and even lethal, force,” said Sam Zarifi, Amnesty International’s Asia Pacific Director.

“The police have a duty to protect themselves and uphold the law, but it is completely unacceptable to fire live ammunition at these protesters,” he said.

“The authorities must launch an independent and impartial investigation into this tragedy, and ensure that the results are made public,” he added.

Mine worker Petrus Ayemseba was shot in the buttocks and died a few hours later. Six other workers  – Leo Wandagau, Alius Komba, Melkias Rumbiak, Yunus Nguluduan, Philiton Kogoya and Ahmad Mustofa were also injured from the shooting.

Freeport has accused the strikers of trying to intimidate replacement workers whom the company was trying to move into the mine workers’ barracks.

After the police opened fire, mine workers set fire to two container trucks heading to the mining town and pelted the police with rocks, according to local sources.

Amnesty International has documented numerous cases where Indonesian police have used unnecessary or excessive force or firearms and where no one has been held accountable.

“Indonesian authorities have failed to provide justice and reparations to most victims of excessive use force by the police. They must get to the bottom of this incident quickly and signal that they will impose adequate disciplinary or criminal sanctions on the police and will protect the right of Indonesians to protest,” Sam Zarifi said.

“It is high time the Indonesian police trained and equipped their staff in non-violent methods of crowd control. They also need to ensure that they have non-lethal means of force at their disposal to disperse the protesters if necessary,” he added.

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 .

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.

Freeport Strikes Could Just Work

with New Matilda.com

7 Oct 2011

Freeport Strikes Could Just Work

By Alex Rayfield and Claudia King

Renewed strikes at West Papua‘s Grasberg mine have caught the Indonesian government off guard – and signal a shifting power balance in the province, report Alex Rayfield and Claudia King

Workers at the Freeport McMoRan mine in West Papua resumed strikes on 15 September after more than six weeks of unresolved negotiation talks with company management.

Increasing numbers of international media are covering the workers’ return to strikes, the first of which ended in July after eight days of work stoppage that halted production at the Grasberg mine.

However, national and international media have focused solely on worker demands for an increase in their hourly pay rate — ignoring the history of Freeport’s unfair and even illegal treatment of the mine’s so-called “non-staff” workers.

West Papuan workers receive the lowest wages ($1.50-$3.00) of any Freeport mining facility in the world, despite the fact that their work accounts for 95 per cent of the company’s consolidated gold production, and a substantial percentage of Freeport’s copper production. According to NASDAQ, Freeport has reaped astonishingly high profits from the low labour costs at the West Papuan site, enabling the company “margins in excess of 60 per cent in past years”.

Indonesian energy minister Darwin Zahedy Saleh estimates the Indonesian government alone could lose as much as $6.7 million in tax revenues, royalties and other payments from Freeport every day the strike carried on. Leaders of the All Indonesian Workers Union (freeport division) have said they will agree to a 25 per cent wage increase (down from demands for increases of up to $200 per hour) but Freeport management is so far refusing to lift their offer higher than 22 per cent.

However, media coverage of the strikes is missing Freeport’s long history of suppressing workers’ rights and union organising in Papua, not to mention the historical context and legacy of poor industrial relations out of which these strikes have emerged.

For one, Freeport McMoRan’s contract of work with the Indonesian government was signed prior to a scheduled referendum on West Papua’s political status. The UN had granted Indonesian temporary control over the region in 1963 but by the time the “Act of Free Choice” of 1969 was ready to proceed, only 1,022 West Papuans — less than 0.01 per cent of the population at the time — participated. In reality there was no referendum and no vote. Papuans were told by Indonesian military generals to vote for Indonesian rule or have “their tongues cut out”. Unsurprisingly, in this atmosphere of intimidation, 100 per cent choose to support West Papua’s incorporation.

But Freeport McMoRan, subsidiary PT Freeport Indonesia, did not even wait for this farce. The US Company made a deal with the Indonesian dictator Suharto, who was waging military operations in West Papua at the time. Freeport signed their first contract of work in 1967, two years before the 1969 Act of Free Choice. Under Suharto an authoritarian management style became entrenched. Dissent by workers and the local Papuan landowners were repressed harshly by the military.

Secondly, Indigenous West Papuans’ cultural, and economic livelihoods, which are dependent on a healthy natural environment, have been disrupted by Freeport’s arrival. It is no wonder that local communities resisted both violently and nonviolently to the company’s takeover of large swaths of their territory. In fact, Papuan resistance to Freeport has always been connected to Papuan resistance to Indonesia’s repressive “neocolonial” rule, which has now lasted over 50 years and according to Amnesty International resulted in the deaths of over 100,000 people.

Alongside West Papua’s pro-independence movement are workers, both native Papuans and Indonesian migrants, organising for fair pay, basic rights to organise without threats and intimidation from Freeport management, and the provision of equal facilities for local workers as their foreign worker counterparts, including: housing, health care, education, and pension funds.

They are demanding the freedom to organise as workers, to strike and demonstrate without threats, intimidation, or interference from Freeport management or local police, and without penalty of receiving no pay or the risk of losing their jobs. Freeport has now engaged global security contractors Securicor (now G4S), to break the strike.

Union leaders are maintaining vigilant documentation of violations by the various security apparatus. Since resuming the strike, workers have received messages from officials viaSMS, and visits to their family homes by Freeport staff and security who threaten to withhold pay and fire striking workers. Barracks near the mine’s entrance in Tembagapura were raided by officials, some whom were allegedly foreign nationals, who according to workers ordered miners to sign an agreement to end the strike.

The most disturbing incident was the attempted shooting of Union Chairman Sudiro while in his home on September 11, 2011 by “persons unknown”, a phrase in Indonesia that is often shorthand for the Indonesian military.

In a significant escalation of resistance, leaders of the Amungme and Kamoro tribes — the two customary landowner groups who own the land Freeport is mining — are supporting the striking workers. Senior tribal leaders Anis Natkime, Canisius Amareyau, Viktor Beanal and youth leaders Jecky Amisim and Donny Emayauta have written to Freeport CEO James Moffett and Freeport President Richard Adkerson to ask the company to agree to worker’s demands.

Failing this the tribal leaders threaten to close Freeport’s entire operations from the Amungme highlands of the 4,200 metre high Grasberg mine down to the Kamoro lowland port of Amapare. In doing so, these leaders are throwing off decades of fear and trauma brought about by repressive Indonesian military operations in support of Freeport. Abuses include the forced removal of villages and massacres by Indonesian military and police personnel who have never been held to account.

Although Indigenous communities living in and around the site of the Grasberg mine are supposed to receive a percentage of the profits from mining extraction as a part of an agreement known as the “1 per cent fund” community leaders claim the funds, which are routed through Jakarta, never reach the local community. The fund has also created conflict and competition between tribes.

While there is no guarantee that workers and community leaders will achieve their goals or address long-standing grievances, the worker strikes have caught Freeport and the government off guard, and awoken them to the reality that they are no longer uncontested power-holders in the region. Instead they will be forced to shift their practices one way or another, or else face serious economic and reputational losses.

The strike also threatens to have much wider repercussions than mere pay rises. West Papuan independence leaders in other parts of the country are preparing to organise the third national gathering of Papuan resistance groups. These leaders are watching the events at Freeport closely. When the three-day Third Papua Congress opens in Jayapura/Port Numbay on 16 October you can be sure that grievances around Freeport will be high on the agenda.

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.