Arjuna Pademme, Jayapura – Lawmaker of the Papua's Legislative Council's Politics, Law, and Human Rights Commission Laurenzus Kadepa reveals that 8,300 former employees of mining giant PT Freeport Indonesia, who were arbitrarily laid off some years ago as part of the company's efficiency drive, is still fighting for their rights.
Kadepa said that both the Indonesian government and Freeport had been ignoring these people. On the other hand, Freeport is building a copper smelter in Gresik Regency, East Java, and soon will recruit new employees to work at the smelter.
According to Kadepa, Freeport laid off these workers because they went on strike. The strike itself was in response to the company's plan to lay off workers for efficiency.
"Since 2017, I've been accompanying these workers to seek justice and fulfill their rights. We have evidence that there have been many laid-off workers and their families who died while fighting for their rights. But they are still ignored to date," Kadepa told Jubi on Thursday, October 14, 2021.
Kadepa said that the Gresik smelter was said to require 40,000 employees. "This seems unfair and will hurt the feelings of the laid-off workers. The government and PT Freeport Indonesia must not turn a blind eye to the 8,300 laid-off workers," he said, urging the company to rehire them to work at the smelter.
"Please don't ignore these people, they have contributed to the company for decades, as well as for the state by paying taxes," said Kadepa.
Previously on Tuesday, President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo has just kicked off the construction of Freeport's new smelter. The smelter will be built on an area of 100 hectares, dubbed the largest single line smelter in the world with a capacity of 1.7 million tons of copper concentrate annually, with a project investment value of Rp 42 trillion (US$2.94 billion).
In his remark during the groundbreaking ceremony, Jokowi said the smelter would strengthen the development of the downstream mining industry. He hoped that the establishment of a smelting site in the country would attract more investment, especially from the copper derivative industry.
Meanwhile, PT Freeport Indonesia president director Tony Wenas said that the obligation to build a smelter was stated in Freeport's Special Mining Business Permit. "This is an integral part of our license to continue operations until 2041," said Wenas.