Freeport Workers Urge Govt to Mediate Dispute after Mass Layoff

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  • Employees of PT Freeport Indonesia staged a protest in front of the Energy and Mineral Resources Ministry office on Tuesday, March 7, 2017.  TEMPO/Maria Fransisca

    Employees of PT Freeport Indonesia staged a protest in front of the Energy and Mineral Resources Ministry office on Tuesday, March 7, 2017. TEMPO/Maria Fransisca

    TEMPO.CO, Jakarta - Workers Union of Freeport Indonesia urge the government to mediate the dispute between the employees and the management. The workers have insisted this request after the massive layoff of 840 of Freeport's employees on May 15.

    “Their actions are out of control. Freeport cannot just treat their employees irresponsibly,” said the secretary general of Freeport workers' union (SPF) Tri Puspita on Tuesday, May 16.

    Tri suspects that the mass layoff is the company’s direct response following the workers’ strike since May 1. There were roughly 1,700 Freeport employees, which equates to 5.3 percent of the total 32,000 workers, who agreed to go on strike for a whole month. 

    SPF demands the cancellation of the layoff, putting an end to the intimidations received by SPF administrators, and rehire the employees that were either laid off or relocated. The workers requested a bipartite negotiation in order to discuss the collective labor agreement (PKB).

    Tri explains that a bipartite negotiation has been held for a number of times without any positive results. “The bipartite negotiation has failed. We ask the government to not stay silent,” he said.

    According to the SPF report, the workers’ strike affected the company’s activity. The production of Freeport's raw mineral dropped to just 60 percent since May 1, 2017. This happened after the company recently increased their production after they received a permit to export concentrates from the government.

    This is not the first time Freeport issued a unilateral layoff. Early last year, they ended the contract of 309 out of 500 employees in PT Smelting Gresik, mostly owned by Freeport. 

    ROBBY IRFANY