News / Asia

Freeport Strike Settlement Could Set Precedent

An activist shouts a slogan during a solidarity rally for workers of U.S. mining giant Freeport-McMoran outside the company's Indonesian headquarters in Jakarta, Indonesia, October 11, 2011 (file photo).
An activist shouts a slogan during a solidarity rally for workers of U.S. mining giant Freeport-McMoran outside the company's Indonesian headquarters in Jakarta, Indonesia, October 11, 2011 (file photo).
Brian Padden

Workers at the Freeport mine in Indonesia settled a three-month strike Wednesday that disrupted output at the world's second-largest copper mine. The Papuan workers, who were the lowest paid workers of any Freeport operation in the world, will get a significant pay raise, but less then they initially demanded.

Union workers at the Freeport McMoRan Copper & Gold company accepted a 37 percent pay raise, over two years, to end Indonesia's longest-running industrial dispute. The deal is to be officially approved on Saturday.  Under the final settlement the wages will increase to around $7.50 an hour.

Professor Kurtubi, an economist at the University of Indonesia who specializes in mineral resource economics, says the agreement is good for the workers, good for the company and good for the government.

"This is a good, good solution, a win, win solution. Instead of maintaining the dispute for never ending, it is good to reach an agreement," said Kurtubi.

He says the workers will get more pay. Freeport will still make a healthy profit.  And, with the labor issue resolved he says the government will now focus on renegotiating the percentage that Freeport pays in taxes and royalties, from one percent to three percent or more.

The settlement was expected be approved on Tuesday, but was delayed by last-minute negotiations to ensure workers would not be penalized for participating in the strike.

During the strike, the company said it was losing two million pounds of copper and 3,000 ounces of gold in daily production.  Despite the mine's reduced output during the labor unrest, copper prices fell on worries about weak global demand. There is concern that resuming full mining operations could further bring down prices.

During the strike, operations were further disrupted by attacks on pipelines and blockades by workers that cut off some food and fuel supplies. Workers will have to repair the damages before resuming full production.

The strike has been the highest profile work stoppage in Indonesia in recent years. Professor Kurtubi says other mining companies will likely have to match Freeport wages to prevent their workers from going on strike.

"The level of the salaries that they pay to the workers should not [be] so much different than the pay that workers receive in Freeport," said Kurtubi.

Freeport Indonesia employs 23,000 people its mining operations. Many are Christian and reportedly pushed for a settlement before Christmas, so that they could afford to celebrate the holiday.

You May Like

Video Drug Use Rises in Afghanistan

Ninety percent of world’s heroin comes from Afghanistan More

Here's Your Chance to Live in a Deserted Shopping Mall

About one-third of the 1200 enclosed malls in the US are dead or dying. Here's what's being done with them. More

Video NASA: Big Antarctica Ice Shelf Is Disintegrating

US space agency’s new study indicates Larsen B shelf could break up in just a few years More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriagei
X
May 21, 2015 4:14 AM
The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.
Video

Video Women to March for Peace Between Koreas

Prominent female activists from around the world plan to march through the demilitarized zone dividing North and South Korea to call for peace between the two neighbors, divided for more than 60 years. The event, taking place May 24, marks the International Women's Day for Peace and Disarmament and has been approved by both Koreas. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Drug Use Rises in Afghanistan Following Record High Poppy Crops

Afghanistan has seen record high poppy crops during the last few years - and the result has been an alarming rise in illegal drug use and addiction in the war-torn country. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem has this report from Kabul.
Video

Video America’s Front Lawn Gets Overhaul

America’s front yard is getting a much-needed overhaul. Almost two kilometers of lawn stretch from the U.S. Capitol to the Washington Monument. But the expanse of grass known as the National Mall has taken a beating over the years. Now workers are in the middle of restoring the lush, green carpet that fronts some of Washington’s best-known sights. VOA’s Steve Baragona took a look.

VOA Blogs