Wednesday, October 19, 2011


        Jakarta, Oct 19, 2011 (ANTARA) - A strike by a number of PT Freeport Indonesia workers in Timika, Papua, has been going for more than one month without signs that a peaceful solution to their dispute with the company`s management can be found soon while the situation in Freeport`s concession area is getting more complicated.
      A clash between gun-toting police and rock-throwing strikers in Timika, on October 10, 2011, killed one demonstrator and one police officer, as well as injured several people.

       Strikers were angry over the death of one of their fellows, Petrus Ayamiseba, who was hit by a live bullet, and then set a number of trailers carrying PT Freeport containers on fire and blocked a section of the main road at Mile 27.
       Until now security officials are still negotiating with demonstrators in an effort to make them open the blockade. Meanwhile, the National Police Headquarters has sent a team to investigate the shooting of Petrus.
       The demonstrators asked the PT Freeport management to temporarily stop its operations until the strike case is solved and their demand for a salary hike met.
       Since the strike began on September 15, 2011, PT Freeport has been operating to a limited extent. On Monday (Oct 17), however, production was halted due to alleged d sabotage and blockade of the access road to the mining site.
      On Tuesday (Oct 18), PT Freeport production resumed 50 percent, after repairs was made to a leaking pipeline.
       Freeport vice president Nurhadi Sabirin said the production stoppage was done at the company`s open-pit as well as in underground mines.
       He said several sections of a pipeline channeling gold and copper concentrates to the portsite had been punctured and as a result the company could not ship the concentrates and therefore production was stopped.
      The striking workers had blocked the main road from Porsite Harbor to Timika, Kuala Kencana and Tembagapura to cut off supplies of food, production equipment, medicines and other goods for the company`s production activities.
       PT Freeport Indonesia`s spokesman Ramdani Sirait expressed concern over what he described as "violent criminal offenses and illegal acts" that has occurred in PT Freeport`s concession area over the past one week.
       Speaking in Timika on Tuesday (Oct 18), Ramdani urged striking workers to stop committing illegal acts and criminal offenses that obstruct the company`s operations.
       According to Ramdani, the strikers also intimidated other workers, who are not on strike at locations such as bus terminals, and threatened them and their family members in Timika, entered the working areas and used the company`s equipment illegally.
       "PTFI fully supports and cooperates with the security personnel to investigate the incidents. Such actions must be stopped and civil order must be restored," Ramdani said.

Ramdani said PT Freeport is one of the biggest tax payers and employers in Indonesia.

"And most importantly, they must be responsible for the illegal acts and face the consequences. Striking workers who are involved in those actions have violated basic human rights and criminal laws," Ramdani said.

The gold and copper mining company might totally stop production again if the security and order situation remains bad, the spokesman said.

Around 90 percent of the company`s 12,000 irregular employees have been joining the strike demanding the salary hike. Ramdani, however, said that the company has paid quite good salaries to its workers, and even the highest among other companies in Indonesia.

PT Freeport Indonesia`s workers, who do not join the strike, have urged President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to intervene in the handling of a series of shooting incidents that have happened in Timika since 2009.

Freeport employees are tired, fed up, and stressed, and they also feel intimidated due to the unsolved shootings by unidentified armed men, Solichin, one of the gold and copper mining company workers, said.

"We have not seen any concrete efforts by the security agencies to be transparent in this problem. Please Mr. President SBY pay attention to this problem," he said in Timika on Tuesday (Oct 18).

He also asked the security authorities to open the road at Mile 27 and Mile 28 in Timika which have been blocked by demonstrators.

PT Freeport Indonesia management has repeatedly appealed to protesting employees to open blockade to smoothen flows of logistic supplies.

"We hope God would move you to open the access for the interest of many people," the company`s president director and CEO Armando Mahler said in his appeal made in Tembagapura, Papua, on Sunday (Oct 16).

He said the impact of the blockade in Mile 27 since October 10 was huge for PT Freeport Indonesia because all logistic supplies to the company`s operation areas come from Amamapare Portsite.

Due to the blockade, aviation turbine (avtur) fuel supply in Mozes Kilangin airport in Timika has run out since Friday (Oct 14) and as a result the airport authority since Saturday (Oct 15) has no longer served avtur to some airline companies providing both commercial service and feeder service to inland areas.

The condition has since Saturday caused Garuda Indonesia to change its flight routes while Merpati Nusantara canceled flight from Makassar to Timika.

As a lot of containers have failed to be brought from the Cargo Dock of Amamapare Portsite ships that carry Freeport containers have also failed to conduct loading and uploading at the port.

He said the Freeport management has referred the blocking problem to the security authorities concerned.

Around 12,000 people consisting of the company`s employees and their family members, live in Tembagapura and they are facing food and medicine shortages due to the blocked road.

Syamsudin Manja, another worker, said eight people had been killed and around 40 others injured since the shootings began in 2009.

"Many of our colleagues died but until now there is no attention. We urge the President, the Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal and Security Affairs, the National Defense Forces (TNI) Chief, the National Police Chief, and the Papua Regional Police Chief, to pay serious attention to this problem," he said.

"We are not second-class citizens who have no freedom to live," Syamsudin said.

He regretted that the security authorities seemed helpless in dealing with the problems, including the road blocks in PT Freeport Indonesia`s area.

"We want this problem to be settled as soon as possible, it must not be allowed to drag on. Does the government want to see us all living in Tembagapura killed, and only then the government will open its eyes?" he said.

PT Freeport Indonesia currently has around 22,800 workers. It operates in the remote highlands of Indonesia`s eastern most province of Papua.

The company`s Grasberg mining complex is one of the world`s largest single producers of both copper and gold, and contains the largest recoverable reserves of copper and the largest single gold reserve in the world.

Freeport produces 230,000 tons of copper concentrates daily. The concentrates contain gold and silver, apart from copper. Last year, the company produced 553.4 million kg of copper and 50,745 kg of gold.

The company contributed 1.9 billion US dollars in tax and non-tax payments to the state in 2010. It has also spent capital and routine expenses amounting to 2.1 billion US dollars.

A number of the workers have decided to go on strike for one month, from September 15 to October 15, 2011, after the PTFI Labor Union (SPSI) and the firm`s management failed to reach an agreement on the Collective Work Agreement (PKB) for the 2011-2013 period.

But, the strike has continued for more than one month now, as both conflicting parties have not reached any agreement.

The ongoing workers strike at PT Freeport is causing a potential loss of 19 million US dollars per day to the US gold and copper mining company in Papua.

In addition, the government is also losing at an estimated rate of 6.7 million US dollars per day.

Because the mining firm is considered a vital object, Papua Police Chief Inspector General Bigman Lumban Tobing has been directly supervising the security measures taken to protect PT Freeport`s important facilities during the strike.

"The security authorities are following the problem seriously," Papua Provincial Police Spokesman Senior Commissioner Wachyono said in Jayapura, on Sept 15. ***3***

(T.F001/A/F001/F001) 19-10-2011 15:22:01

No comments:

Post a Comment