Freeport mine in Papua sacks 840 striking workers following May Day

Protesters target Freeport mine and West Papuan self-determination on May Day, kicking off the month-long strike at Timika. Image: Johannes P. Christo/

Pacific Media Centre News Desk

Gold and copper mining firm PT Freeport has reportedly laid off 840 employees for going on strike in Timika in the Indonesian-ruled province of Papua from May Day onwards.

Septinus Soumilena, Head of the Immigration, Transmigration and Public Housing Office, confirmed he had received a report from PT Freeport about the dismissal of some 840 employees.

“We have received a letter of notification from the management of PT Freeport stating 840 employees had been laid off. Of course, this is a cause of major concern for all of us,” he said.

The Immigration, Transmigration and Public Housing Office in Mimika tried its best to prevent the layoff by writing to the management of PT Freeport on but to no avail, he revealed.

“It turns out that the letter we have sent was late, because by the time it was sent, about 430 workers had been laid off.

“Today, we sent a letter urging the management of PT Freeport to cancel the layoff. The number of employees discharged has reached 840,” he said.

The Mimika district government will act, as soon as possible, to facilitate a meeting between the management of PT Freeport and leaders of labor unions, he stated.

Thousands striking

Tempo reports that thousands of Freeport Indonesia’s workers in Mimika, Papua, had gone on strike from May 1 to 30, following a deadlocked negotiation with the company’s management.

Yafet Panggala, head of the organisation unit at the Chemical, Energy and Mining Workers Union (SP-KEP) of Freeport Indonesia, said that the strike in Timika commencement coincided with the International Workers Day — May Day.

Panggala had said that Freeport’s Workers Union would continue to be in communications with the company’s management.

Yafet guaranteed that the strike would cease if there was a deal with the management.

“The strike is not our goal, but it’s a means of our struggle. So, there should not be an allegation saying that we want to go on strike all the time. It’s not like that,” Yafet said.

Yafet revealed that the union and Freeport had not reached an agreement related to the disciplinary actions against workers who violate the Cooperation Agreement and the Industrial Relationship Guidelines (PKB-PHI) 2015-2017.

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