Sacked Freeport workers call in Widodo’s pledge on May Day

CNN Indonesia – May 1, 2019
Sacked Freeport workers protest in Central Jakarta – May 1, 2019 (CNN)
Sacked Freeport workers protest in Central Jakarta – May 1, 2019 (CNN)

Jakarta – A number of people who said they came from the group PT Freeport Striking Workers joined the May Day commemorations in Jakarta today demanding that President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo fulfill the promise he made to the workers on February 13.

At the time, the sacked PT Freeport Indonesia workers met with Widodo to discuss the fate of hundreds of workers who had been arbitrarily sacked by Freeport.

Pak [Mr] president what about your February 13 promise”, wrote the workers on a banner which they put up near the Arjuna Wijaya or Horse Statue in Central Jakarta on Wednesday May 1.

In February Presidential Chief of Staff Moeldoko said that Widodo had met with the sacked Freeport workers and that the president would soon summon the PT Freeport management to find a solution to the labour dispute in the mining company which has recently divested the majority of its shares to the government.

In addition to this, the former mining workers also made four other demands, namely the restoration of labour rights, that firm action be taken against companies violating labour norms, urging the national police to form a special division to deal with labour related crimes and demanding that the Social Security Management Agency (BPJS) provide protection to workers.

As well as the former Freeport employees, the Indonesian People’s Front for West Papua (FRI-WP) and the Papuan Student Alliance (AMP) also held a protest action commemorating May Day 2019 at the Horse Statue.

Earlier, the PT Freeport Indonesia management challenged the sacked workers to pursue the issue through legal channels at the Industrial Relations Court (PHI).

Freeport Indonesia spokesperson Riza Pratama said that they are currently drafting a letter in response to a request by Papua Governor Lukas Enembe who had earlier asked the company to reinstate the former workers and pay their wages over the duration of the strike which began in May 2017.

“We are currently drafting a letter to the Pak [Mr} governor. In principle the company’s position is that we are encouraging the ex-employees to pursue legal channels through the Industrial Relations Court”, said Pratama as quoted by the state news agency Antara.

Pratama said that resolving the dispute through the PHI is the best solution to put an end to the prolonged polemic related to the problems which have befallen the 2,300 former Freeport workers. (mts/asa)

[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was “Eks Karyawan Freeport Tagih Janji Jokowi di Aksi May Day”.]