14 Dec 2011

Deal reached to end historic strike at Freeport's Papua mine

9:55 pm on 14 December 2011

A deal has been reached to end a three-month strike at the massive Grasberg gold and copper mine in Indonesia's Papua region.

The workers union, which had been demanding a wage hike, and the mine's owner, US company Freeport-McMoRan, have agreed to a 37 per cent increase.

A union spokesperson, Juli Parorrongan, told the AFP news agency that workers are still waiting for it to made official in coming days, but the deal would see the increase paid over two years, starting with a 24 per cent increase.

She says that if all goes as planned, workers will return to work on Saturday after one of the longest and most violent industrial disputes in Indonesia's history.

The rise falls far short of the workers' initial demands from the world's most profitable gold and copper mine.

They earn an average of US$1.50 per hour, and were seeking a pay rise of 300 per cent.

Around 8,000 of Freeport's 23,000 workers in Papua have been on strike since September 15, crippling production at the Grasberg mine,.

The strike was marred by a series of violent attacks: a total of nine people, mostly workers, were killed in ambush attacks and clashes with police in the already restive province.

Several of the striking workers were shot by police while protesting.

The strike has slashed production by 50 per cent, prompting the company in October to declare force majeure, helping boost copper prices.