24 Dec 2011

Freeport mining workers in Papua set to return to work

8:38 am on 24 December 2011

Thousands of workers at Freeport McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc's mine in Indonesia's Papua will start returning to work on Saturday to end a three-month strike.

The union at the world's second biggest copper mine will also lift a road blockade that prevented other workers from accessing the Grasberg mine.

The workers agreed to a deal with management last week on a pay rise of about 37 percent as well as other benefits to end the three-month strike that crippled the company's production.

The union had planned to mobilise workers to return to the mine on December 17 but that was delayed as they waited for guarantees from management that no disciplinary action would be taken against the roughly 8,000 strikers.

Senior union official, Virgo Solossa, told Reuters, they have now reached an agreement about the guarantee from the firm, adding no action would be taken against those who went on strike.

The strike is the longest in recent Indonesian history and represents the first major attempt by workers to reap greater financial rewards in one of the world's hottest emerging markets.

A senior Freeport official, Scott Hanna, confirmed Friday's agreement to lift the blockade and mobilise union workers, but did not say when exactly they would return to work.