Freeport neglects labor security

Freeport neglects labor security

The recent situation in below the ground training class room in Big Gossan, Grasberg, Papua. The rescue team assisted by several workers working all the time to find their colleagues. (REUTERS/PT Freeport Indonesia/Handout)

... fact that so many people killed and injured showed that the company had failed... "
Jakarta (ANTARA News) - Deputy chairman of the Commission IX of the House of Representatives Irgan Mahfiz accused PT Freeport Indonesia of neglecting the security of its workers.

Irgan referred to last week's accident in Mimika when the Big Gossan tunnel collapsed killing at least 28 people and 10 other injured.

The accident occurred when 40 workers held routine underground working security training in the tunnel. Until yesterday (May 22), the rescue team had evacuated almost all of the Indonesian workers from the tunnel. Only six left behind and still in the searching and rescue.

The Big Gossan tunnel is not a mining tunnel as it has been used only for labor security training for the workers of the subsidiary of the US company Freeport-McMoRan.

Freeport has been in operation in Papua since the 1970, having the largest gold and copper mines in the country .

Mahfiz said here on Wednesday, the company had trained its workers underground that could collapses any time.

He said apparently the company had not made labor security a priority.

"The fact that so many people killed and injured showed that the company had failed in addressing labor security that should be high in priority," he said.

He urged the government to immediately form a team of investigation to probe into the case.

Freeport has to be held responsible for the accident including compensation and it should be ready to face possible legal case , he said.

Meanwhile, a Papua regional legislator Yan Mandenas said the central government and regional and district administrations should strongly reprimand PT Freeport Indonesia.

"This is tragic. The government should not keep silent about it," Mandenas said, more such accidents could occur anytime in mining tunnels.

The government and Freeport should review mining operation in Papua considering the security of workers and the preservation of the environment.

Mining operations of Freeport have caused extensive damage to the environment in Papua, he said.

Lien Maloali of the Foker non governmental organization, said it is time for the Papua provincial administration to take a firm stand.

"We must not continue to be dictated by Freeport, which has given only little of its big profit to the people of Papua," Lien said.

Energy and Mineral Resources Minister Jero Wacik said 14 bodies of dead workers were found on Tuesday.

The 14 bodies brought the number of workers killed in the accident to 28, Jero told the lawmakers at a meeting here on Tuesday.