Jakarta – Thirty-five sacked PT Freeport Indonesia workers, who have been camping out in front of the State Palace for a week, have been forcibly removed by police and are being held at the Metro Jaya regional police headquarters in Jakarta.
Police began breaking up the protest at 10 pm local time after earlier dealing with a demonstration by Tanker Truck Crew Trade Union workers from the state-owned fuel company Pertamina.
One of the workers, Echi Rumabur said that police asked the former employees to disband and leave the National Monument (Monas) area in front of the Palace.
He said that police returned at 9.30 pm local time and again asked the former gold-mine employees to leave the location.
"At 10 pm police forcibly broke up [our protest] by bringing in a police detention vehicle", said Rumabur when sought for confirmation by CNN Indonesia on Wednesday February 13.
Rumabur said that 35 people were taken away in two vehicles while their equipment and tents were taken away in a bus. As of submitting this report, the former employees are still being held at the Metro Jaya regional police headquarters.
Rumabur said that they are still coordinating with the workers being held by police.
Earlier in the day, a representative of the former Freeport workers, Jerry Yerangga, was able to meet with President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo. He said that they had asked the president to follow up on the labour violations committed by Freeport Indonesia.
"The violations committed by Freeport are [based on] policies from foreign countries, yet they are not part of [Indonesia's] labour law or any joint agreements", said Yerangga on Wednesday.
According to Yerangga the violation committed by Freeport was laying off workers for an unlimited period of time. He said that the total number of employees who were sent home since 2017 was around 800 people.
PT Freeport Indonesia has spoken out about the former company employees who have been camping out in protest in front of the State Palace for more than a week.
Freeport spokesperson Riza Pratama said that the former employees are part of 3,500 workers who had been sacked by the company. As has been reported, the action at the Place was in protest against the sackings.
The dispute began when the company was unable to sell mining concentrates as a consequence of a ban on exports and the company's failure to complete the construction of a smelter by 2017.
As a result, said Pratama, the company took efficiency measures to reduce capital expenditure and company operating costs. The impact of this was that the company terminated the employment of foreign labour, contractors and local workers. (asa/asa)
[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was "Tenda Dibongkar, 35 Eks Pekerja Freeport 'Diangkut' ke Polda".]