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Jakarta Post

They ask for wages, not bullets

  • Budi Hernawan

Canberra   /   Mon, October 24 2011   /  08:00 am

On Oct. 10, in chaotic circumstances, the police of Timika opened fire and shot dead an employee of PT Freeport Indonesia, Petrus Ayamiseba. His death sparked fury not only in Timika but also outside the city with demands for the resignation of the regional and provincial police chiefs.

Ayamiseba was one of thousands of Freeport workers who had gone on strike for weeks demanding an increase in wages by 25 percent, as well as other employment benefits. Freeport Indonesia workers reportedly receive the lowest salaries among all Freeport McMoRan (FM) workers around the world, with wages ranging from US$1.50–$3.00 per hour.

The labor strike is a relatively new phenomenon in the US gold mining firm. It was an unthinkable option prior to the reform movement in 1998.

It was Tongoi Papua, the union for the indigenous Papuan workers, which made history in 2007 when it org...