9 Nov 2011

Striking workers in Papua may extend industrial action

11:50 am on 9 November 2011

Thousands of workers at a giant US-owned gold and copper mine in Indonesia's Papua are prepared to extend their nearly two-month strike over better wages.

Last month Freeport McMoRan declared a force majeure on shipments from the mine so it could avoid liability on existing customer orders.

Union spokesman, Virgo Solossa, told AFP the strike will be extended until December the 15th if there's no solution by the end of this week.

The company and workers union resumed negotiations on Monday.

The workers originally demanded drastic wage increases, from a minimum hourly rate of 1.50 US to 3.50 US an hour, and are now calling for 4.00 US dollars an hour.

The workers claim to be Freeport's lowest paid workers in the world.

The strikes have also triggered ambushes and clashes with police that have killed eight people in the vicinity of the mine north of Timika town.

In the latest unrest on Monday unknown gunmen opened fire at a Freeport vehicle in the mine area, injuring a police guard.

Last year, Freeport reported sales revenues of more than 5 billion US dollars from Grasberg.

The Jakarta Globe English daily reported on Monday that seven soldiers were in custody and were being investigated for alleged abuse of 12 people at a public meeting in the Jayawijaya district.