22 Sep 2011

Extreme risk for low-paid Papua mine workers, says unionist

1:06 pm on 22 September 2011

A spokesperson for the thousands of miners striking for higher wages in the Indonesian province of Papua says the working conditions at the Grasberg mine are probably the most dangerous in the world.

As many as 11,000 workers are estimated to be taking part in the stoppage, which Juli Parorrongan says was intended to last a month but will continue until demands of an increase from a minimum hourly wage of two US dollars are met.

The Freeport McMoran-owned mine has the world's largest recoverable reserves of copper, making the company Indonesia's top tax payer.

Juli Parorrongan says the risks to workers at the high altitude mine are extreme and that's why they want better pay.

"It's so hard to breathe because the oxygen is not normal, the temperature is very cold and then our work area is very, very dangerous."

Juli Parorrangan says the workers are also at risk of being shot by Indonesian soldiers.