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Two Freeport Workers Die As Labor Dispute Continues

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Banjir Ambarita - Two workers of the giant gold and copper mine in Papua operated by a local subsidiary.of Freeport-McMoRan were found dead in their burned car, police and mine officials said on Monday.

Papua Police spokesman Sr. Comr. Wachyono said that a Freeport trailer caught fire before overturning at about 9:15 a.m. and that the two people on board had been found dead inside.

He declined to speculate on the cause of the incident, including whether the trailer was attacked by snipers or whether the fire was accidental.

"Our personnel are still investigating, but what is clear is that [the car] was not set on fire but caught fire," Wachyono said, adding that the incident took place at mile 50-51 on the main road linkingTembagapura with Timika.
Wachyono declined to blame anyone for the deaths.

Ramdani Sirait, a spokesman for Freeport Indonesia, was quoted by Antara as confirming that the two fatalities were workers of Freeport contractor Kuala Pelabuhan Indonesia.

Ramdani said that from initial reports it appeared the vehicle had been shot at.
"The initial investigation shows that there are signs of shots on the body of the vehicle," he said.

In a recent attackby snipers in the area, gunmen attacked a helicopter carrying Freeport workers, woundingone person on Dec. 17. The helicopter continued its flight and reached its destination in good condition.

The attack occurred as thousands of workers returned to the Grasberg mine in Papua following a three-month strike over wages.

In November, two people were injured when gunmen shot at a bus carrying military and police personnel on the road leading to Freeport's mining concession in Papua. The driver and one of the soldier on board were wounded by shrapnel.

Ten people, all Indonesians, have now been killed around the mine in ambushes and in a clash with police since a strike that began in September.

On Friday, the workers union said that by the end of 2011, several of Freeport's subcontractors had not paid more than 900 employees at the mine and that their members would not return to work until the issue was resolved.

The workers union had been on athree-month strike involving more than 8,000 workers and 1,600 contractors, to demand better pay for workers andbetter conditions for contractors.

Freeport said it aimed to have all workers back by next Monday and reach full capacity in the following weeks when some damaged pipelines are repaired.

The three-month strike has forced the company that operates one ofthe world's largest gold and copper mines to declare force majeure on some contracts.

Source : The Jakarta Post, January 10, 2012