Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Freeport: We Will Offer Miners a Fair Deal Ahead of Strike

Freeport McMoRan Copper & Gold’s mine workers in Indonesia will go on strike on Sept. 15 unless the company meets their demands for a pay increase, a union official told Reuters on Monday.

The strike would be the second since July at Grasberg in West Papua, the world’s third-biggest copper mine, and would tighten global supplies of an industrial metal that have already been thinned by industrial action in top producer Chile.

The strike would go on “indefinitely until the firm agreed” to the workers’ demands, said union official Virgo Solossa.

The union, representing 8,000 workers, is demanding an increase in hourly pay from a range of $1.50 to $3.50 to a range of $30 to $200.

Ramdani Sirait, a spokesman for Freeport, said in an e-mailed statement on Monday that the negotiation process was ongoing and the company was expecting to reach “a fair and reasonable agreement for non-staff employees.”

The negotiation process for a Collective Labor Agreement (CLA) for 2011 to 2013 will continue on Sept. 5, Ramdani said.

Should the negotiation not be completed within the agreed time, the parties can extend the talks for a maximum of 30 days.

“There is no legal basis for any form of work stoppage as the laws provide for sustained dialogue and mediation,” he said.

He added that during the negotiations, Freeport’s management has offered a financial package for improving the welfare of employees for the upcoming period of the CLA, from October 2011 to September 2013.

The compensation package includes a 22 percent increase in basic wages for non-staff employees over the two year period, higher bonuses and a savings plan.

“In practice, this compensation package will amount to 26 times the basic monthly wage [excluding overtime],” he said.

“In addition, other benefit increases include more value for housing loans, bonuses for shift work, and educational assistance for their dependent children,” Ramdani said.

In July, workers held an eight-day strike at Grasberg, allegedly causing a production loss of 60,000 ounces of gold and 35 million pounds of copper.

Labor unrest isn’t confined to Freeport, as workers seek to raise their living standards amid a booming economy, strikes have been held during the last couple of months.

In July, about 650 local pilots from Garuda Pilots Union (APG) launched a 24-hour strike over wage inequality between Indonesian and foreign pilots.

At Carrefour Indonesia, employees had threatened to strike before the Idul Fitri holiday on Aug, 31.

Source; http://www.thejakartaglobe.com/