Freeport ready to settle its labor dispute in court

Timika, Papua (ANTARA News) - PT Freeport Indonesia said it was ready to refer its dispute with workers affiliated to the All-Indonesian Workers Union (SPSI) to the industrial relations court if its latest pay raise offer was not enough to satisfy them.

The company`s spokesman, Ramdani Sirait, said here on Monday if negotiations with the trade union failed the company would take the case to the industrial court (PHI) as mandated by the manpower law.

"We will continue to try to settle the case based on sensible reasons which are negotiable but we are also ready to settle the dispute through the PHI as mandated by the Indonesian law if agreement is not reached," he said.

He made the statement in connection with the trade union`s decision to reject Freeport`s latest offer to raise the workers` wages by 30 percent as forwarded during a bipartite meeting facilitated by the Mimika administration since Friday (Oct 21) to Thursday (Oct 27).

Ramdani said PT Freeport had held negotiations with the company`s SPSI unit`s leadership with good will and revised its offer upward several times to reach a just and reasonable deal.

The wage increase package offered by PT Freeport was the best in the manpower market in Indonesia, he said.

PT Freeport`s last offer was Rp11 million per month as gross income for lowest level workers including regular scheduled overtime pay and other bonuses and Rp19 million per month for A5 level workers.

He said although the trade union had already revised its demand the latest offer was a raise of 400 percent from the present wage level.

"The workers` latest demand was Rp28 million for lowest level workers and Rp78 million for highest level workers," he said.

Ramdani said PT Freeport continued communicating the basic reasons for its pay raise offer to the union`s board members but so far no fair and reasonable agreement had been reached.

He said PT Freeport still had to carry out its operations in the midst of the difficulties caused by the decision of the workers to strike that had also led to riots.

"We regretted and mourned the death of one person and those who were wounded and also the damage to property that occurred during the strike," he said.

Mimika district head Klemen Tinal confirmed PT Freeport had filed a PHI application in Jakarta to settle the dispute.

If within the next 60 days no agreement was reached, the company would use the collective labor agreement for 2009-2011 according to the law.

"This is a fact not an imagination and therefore serious consideration must be done. Do not be idealistic but also consider your families," he said at the meeting with PT Freeport management and SPSI representatives and other parties concerned here on Saturday.

He said the goodwill of PT Freeport to raise the workers` wage by 30 percent was extraordinary as before it only agreed to a raise of 22 percent in two years.

"I ask all sides to think of the consequences of the prolonged negotiations. If it continues the law mandates a return to the previous labor agreement which does not reflect the objective condition at present. Do not let certain party make the situation become like that. Do not let the idea of one person to hurt a lot of others," he said.

In connection with the continuation of negotiations between the management and SPSI, the Mimika district administration asked the two sides to immediately make a written report about the stand towards the offer of a 30 percent raise and submit it to the office on Tuesday (Nov 1) at the latest. (*)