Freeport workers demand end to criminalization, intimidation of trade unions

Metro TV – May 1, 2017
Gema Demokrasi rally - May 1, 2017 (Indrakusuma)
Gema Demokrasi rally - May 1, 2017 (Indrakusuma)

Timika – Thousands of workers in Mimika, West Papua, commemorated International Labour Day or May Day by demanding that the Indonesian government immediately resolve the problems at the PT Freeport Indonesia (PFI) gold and copper mine.

The chairperson of the Mimika regency branch of the Indonesian Workers Union-Mining, Energy and Chemicals Trade Union (SPKEP-SPSI), Aser Gobai said that the workers’ six demands are calling on the government to act swiftly to overcome the problems with PFI and protect the interests of workers.

“Along with ending the criminalisation of Sudiro, the head of the SPKEP-SPSI Freeport Indonesia work unit leadership body”, said Aser as quoted by the Antara news agency on Monday May 1.

Aser called on all employees to unite and not be divided by the intimidation of workers. He said that some 32,000 PT Freeport employees have been oppressed and their rights stolen. Therefore all parties must unite so that PT Freeport benefits the employees, residents of Mimika and Indonesia.

The SPKEP-SPSI employees at Freeport made six demands during the rally which was held at the Timika square. They called on the government to immediately revoke Government Regulation Number 78/2015 on Wages which they say impoverishes Indonesian workers, improvements to social security services and to abolish outsourcing and exploitative apprenticeships.

They also called on the government to give workers the right to join unions by ending the intimidation and criminalisation of Indonesian trade unions and rejected revisions to Law Number 13/2013 on Labour that would abolish severance pay.

[Slightly abridged translation by James Balowski for the Indoleft news service. The original title of the report was “Hari Buruh, Pekerja Tuntut Persoalan Freeport Dituntaskan”.]