Freeport workers threaten to extend strike

TIMIKA, Indonesia — Thousands of workers at a giant US-owned gold and copper mine in eastern Indonesia are prepared to extend their nearly two-month strike over better wages, a union spokesman said Tuesday.

Late last month Freeport McMoRan declared force majeure on shipments from the Grasberg mine in Papua after the labour action that began in mid-September lead to a subsequent drop in production, disrupting its ability to make good on some promised deliveries to customers.

“The strike will be extended until December 15 if there’s no solution by the end of this week,” the workers’ spokesman Virgo Solossa told AFP, adding that the company and workers union resumed negotiations on Monday.

The workers originally demanded drastic wage increases, from a minimum hourly rate of $1.50 to $3.50 an hour, and are now calling for $4.00 an hour.

The workers claim to be Freeport’s lowest paid workers in the world.

The strikes have also triggered ambushes and clashes with police that have killed eight people in the vicinity of the mine north of Timika town.

In the latest unrest on Monday unknown gunmen opened fire at a Freeport vehicle in the mine area, injuring a police guard in the face, national police spokesman Saud Usman Nasution said.

He said the gunmen “ran away into the jungle after the shooting.”

Last year, Freeport reported sales revenues of more than $5 billion from Grasberg.

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