Workers Strike at PT Freeport Indonesia in 2011 and 2017

Freeport workers went on strike in front of Indonesian House of Representatives, Jakarta (17/09). Photo: KSN

Lately, the mainstream media have been massively written on what has been happening at PT Freeport Indonesia. Unfortunately, most of those media rely on the information based on an interview conducted with the management of PT Freeport Indonesia. They did not reach out the Freeport Workers who have been dismissed.

Eko Irma Pribadi, the Trade Union Functionary of PT Freeport Indonesia that worked as Specialist Welder Mine Construction for over 17 years, and one of the workers got ‘furlough’ (laid off) from the company, revealed the background on why they were on strike in 2017 to the KSN. As it revealed, the strike in 2017 was not related with the strike in 2011. The strike in 2011 happened because of collective labor agreement negotiation was failed.

Read: “Freeport’s Workers In Limbo”: Report On The Condition Of The Strike Workers Of Pt. Freeport Indonesia

“In July 2011 there was the 17th collective labor agreement negotiation at PT Freeport Indonesia, but it was deadlock since Labor Union and management of PT Freeport Indonesia had a different perspective,” said Eko.

According to him, during the meeting, the Labor Union and Management had a different perspective on financial negotiation over wage in 2011 and 2012.

“Labor Union focused on the basic salary adjustment which based on the fixed salary, whereas PT Freeport Indonesia wanted normative salary (salary based on the city minimum wage) added variable cost (take home pay) from 12 hours to 14 hours overtime work per day,” Eko said.

To give us a clear background on the strike at PT Freeport Indonesia, KSN interviewed Eko to reveal the conflict that has been happening between workers and Management of PT Freeport Indonesia in 211 and 2017.

What causes workers of PT Freeport Indonesia strike in 2011?

The strike begun on 15 September 2011 since the 17th collective labor agreement negotiation meetings between PT Freeport Indonesia and Labor Union was unsuccessful. The negotiation meetings took place for 30 days plus an extension for 7 days.

Soon after the 17th negotiations meeting concluded as deadlock, Labor Union that represented workers, conveyed the meeting result to the union members. Closed polls were carried out to 8000 members or 95% member’s union. All of them agreed with the strike option, and the strike process we did correspond with the article 137 Indonesian Labor Law – Act 13 of 2003.

How was the strike situation in 2011?

It was started on 15 September 2011, until the day of 25th the strike itself was orderly and peaceful, but on the day 26th shooting occurred that resulted in 2 peoples dead (Petrus W Ayamiseba and Leo Wandagu) and others were injured.

Read: Freeport’s Workers in Limbo

When did the strike in 2011 ended?

In the middle of December 2011, when there was an agreement between Labor Union and Management of PT Freeport Indonesia in Jakarta.

What was the result of the meeting

One of it was an increase of non-staff workers basic wage up to 24% on the first year and 13% on the second year. Furthermore, there would not be any neither discipline nor sanction towards the workers joined the strike.

There was an agreement in the negotiation meeting then why the strike happened on 23 February 2012?

It was because of the inconsistency of the company on the implementation of the agreement. The company agreed to pay workers’ wage that joined the strike, however until that time they did not pay workers rights according to the agreement, such as their wage and bonus for returning to work. Apart of that since the end of the strike, PT Freeport Indonesia has not been activated our working facilities, such as a login for computer access and email, trunking radio access and our ID card. Also for the staff members that joined in the strike, their wages have not ben adjusted based on the agreement in the negotiation meeting.

Last year, in 2017, as being widely spreading by national media, it is reported that workers return to strike. Could you elaborate the reason of it?

The problem started from efficiency regulation released by PT Freeport Indonesia related with investment uncertainty and prolonged contract extension with the Government of the Republic of Indonesia. It also happened related to the changing of management leadership at PT Freeport Indonesia particularly at HRD division, the current management reluctant to have the negotiation with Labor Union and prefer to have “update status.”

Suddenly, PT Freeport Indonesia management introduced a program called ‘furlough’ (laid off), where the company announced the name of workers that are going to be returned back to the place of acceptance. PT Freeport Indonesia only offers 2 weeks for those workers to collect their personal belongings before return back to the acceptance place.

Every day the management randomly sent a letter to workers, either through department or barrack. Hundreds of workers received a notice letter on furlough program and it is mandatory for workers to accept the program without giving any room for us to defend our self.

When Labor Union questioned this regulation, PT Freeport Indonesia said that the regulation is fully company’s rights and not Industrial Relation matter so it should not be negotiated with Labor Union. They also stated that PT Freeport Indonesia suffered losses due to the inability to sell their concentrate. However, their statement cannot be proven, given PT Freeport Indonesia is still able to sell their product. In other words, their reason cannot be proven.

Is there any criteria, for instance, age or length of working as a basis of the company for selecting workers that are going to be targeted for furlough program?

This is that becoming a problem for workers at PT Freeport Indonesia, in deciding which workers are going to be laid off. The management is not transparent on these criteria. Many of them are still young and productive become a victim of the policy, meanwhile, the company once said that if efficiency occurs PT Freeport Indonesia will prioritize them to stay. Strangely, why they also being targeted for this furlough program. This moment is being used by the management to targeting the vocal and critical workers, particularly to the workers that in the functionaries in Labor Union, which labeled by management as provocateurs and against company’s regulation.

 Since PT Freeport Indonesia is not being transparent on the criteria for those whom are being targeted in the furlough program, at this moment workers are anxious with the regulation and they also afraid that one day they could be the one who received the letter.


Translator: Rini Kusnadi (FSBKU)


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here