Freeport’s Indonesian workers on strike

About 1,100 workers have gone strike at Freeport-McMoRan’s Indonesian mine, demanding improved pay, the US firm said on Wednesday.

The workers, hired by contractors and not by the company itself, downed tools on Tuesday at the Grasberg mine in eastern Papua province, one of the world’s biggest gold and copper mines, Freeport’s Indonesian unit said.

They were mainly construction workers employed to work on the expansion of the mine, according to the union.

Union official Virgo Solossa said the workers intended to go on a month-long strike, according to The West Australian.

“But we hope the workers and the firm can reach a deal on pay before that,” he said.

Workers from contractors Jasti Pravita, Osato Seike and Srikandi Mitra Karya were part of the strike, Freeport said.

“The strike of course could slow don Freeport Indonesia’s activities, but we don’t anticipate any direct impact to the overall mining operation and production,” the company said in a statement.

But mining union Mimika, which represents the workers on strike, said the action ‘would hurt the firm’s operation’.

Industrial action is increasing in Southeast Asia’s biggest economy, especially in foreign companies. Workers are demanding a greater portion of the nation’s prosperity as cost of living grows.

In 2011, a three-month strike over pay by thousands of workers employed by Freeport halted production and only concluded once the firm settled on a large pay rise.

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