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8,000 workers on strike for pay increases

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, Sept. 20, 2011) – Reports from Indonesia say the US miner Freeport in Papua may replace striking workers to maintain production. Thousands of workers at the Grasberg gold and copper mine have been on strike since Thursday to back demands for pay increases.

A top official in the Energy Ministry, Thamrin Sihite, has returned from Papua and told the Jakarta Post that two plans have been drawn up to help Freeport. He says one was to order police to guard workers who still wanted to work amid the strike. And secondly, he says, the company could request outsourced workers to bypass the strikers.

[PIR editor’s note: In July 2011, about 8,000 workers at the Freeport mine went on strike for more than a week, protesting for higher wages above their US$1.50 hourly pay and the reinstatement of sacked union officials. The strike disrupted around 90 percent of operations for the copper and gold mine.]

The latest stoppage was called for a full month and follows a strike in July which led to pay talks that however failed to end in an agreement. Freeport is Indonesia’s top tax payer, contributing almost seven million US dollars a day.

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