About 8,000 workers at Freeport-McMoran Copper & Gold Inc’s Indonesian unit kicked off a seven-day strike on Monday, a union head said, in a move that could potentially disrupt operations. Freeport said it was not anticipating any impact on production at the mine it claims on its website contains the world’s largest single gold reserve.
Freeport’s Indonesia unit runs the Grasberg mine in the remote Papua province, where a separatist insurgency and struggle over resources has lingered for decades. The workers have called for a re-negotiation of their working contract, demanding a wage rise from $1.5 to $3 per hour, since they said other Freeport workers around the world are paid at least $15-30 per hour, a union official said.
Thousands of workers marched from Timika city to Kuala Kencana, the Freeport town complex, on Monday morning, although many have yet to reach the Freeport complex since roads are being blockaded by police.