An unresolved labor dispute with an Indonesian company that is a contractor to Freeport Indonesia, has prevented workers from returning to work at the huge Papua gold and copper mine despite an agreement to end a three-month strike reached earlier in December.
The Gorong-gorong bus terminal in Timika, a main transportation center for the movement of workers between the mines, the headquarters in Tembagapura and the port in Amamapare, remained deserted on Friday.
The terminal was destroyed during a clash between the Freeport strikers and the police on Oct. 10, but has continued to function as the transportation hub for the area.
Hermanus, a worker for the contractor Kuala Pelabuhan Indonesia (PT KPI) said on Friday that the company continued to refuse to rehire 18 members of the company’s labor union who took part in the strike that has been ongoing since Sept. 15.
“If the management of PT KPI does not revoke its decision, then there would be no workers returning to work. That is the commitment of all workers who took part in the strike, be they Freeport workers or those of the contractors,” Hermanus said.
The union of Freeport workers said that staff would not return to work before KPI guaranteed that workers who took part in the strike would not be penalized.
Contractor KPI runs the Freeport port through which concentrate is shipped. It also operates road and transport facilities as well as mobile equipment and employs 2,100 workers.
The strike has crippled output and exports from the copper mine and led the mining firm, a subsidiary of US mining giant Freeport-McMoRan, to declare force majeure on exports in October, putting upward pressure on global copper and gold prices.