Solidarity with striking Indonesian miners
CEP was the first union to respond to an ICEM universal request to 225 affiliates in sending financial assistance to strikers at the world’s largest recoverable copper and gold mine. 10,000 miners have been on strike since Sept. 15 at Indonesia’s Grasberg mining complex, owned by the hugely profitable American company Freeport McMoRan.
The union is the PT Freeport Indonesia Workers’ Union, or FSP-KEP (SPSI), a branch of the national Chemical, Energy, Mine Workers’ Union (CEMWU) of SPSI. They have completely shut all production from the Papua province mine by placing an invincible blockade along the jungle road that leads 120 kilometres from the mine to the port city of Timika.
They have also stopped the flow of gold and copper slurry through a series of pipelines to Timika.
The ICEM sent a team to Indonesia to lend solidarity to the strikers and what they found were food reserves dwindling. The union is feeding strikers and their families from a series of five massive open-air food kitchens, but had to begin rationing because money in a solidarity fund was drying up. The CEP contributed $5,000.
These miners are paid between US$2.13-per-hour and US$3.54 and they seek an increase to US$7.50 to match the profits that Freeport McMoRan gains from this mine. In the second quarter of 2011, the company saw net profits of US$1.37 billion, 60% of which is generated from this mine. The chairman of the company, US national James Moffet, took in a compensation package in 2010 of US$21.5 million.
The strike has seen violence, with police shooting and killing two strikers in October as they tried to board a bus with other workers to join the blockade. But despite the fact that police have issued several ultimatums to remove the blockade, strikers and their supporters have held firm, forcing the company to declare force majeure in October.
This is the biggest and most important labour dispute in the extractive industries sector in the world right now, and the CEP is proud to have responded promptly to ICEM’s call in giving subsistence to these courageous miners.