Hengky Yeimo, Jayapura, Jubi – As many as 96 former PT Freeport Indonesia workers who were laid off have died, allegedly due to illness and depression after losing their jobs.
Former Freeport employee Anton Awom, who is also the Work Strike head of the Jayapura Region, said there were a total of 8,300 employees who were unilaterally terminated by PT Freeport Indonesia for participating in a strike in 2017.
"Now we are 8,204 people. We laid-off workers are still fighting for our rights," Awom said on Thursday, February 17, 2022.
Awom said the massive layoffs made these workers lose jobs and benefits while the cost of living was getting higher. As a result, many are depressed.
"Based on the information we have collected, some are sick, some are depressed because of the heavy necessities of life they cannot fulfill," he said.
Awom requested the National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM) protect their right to life. He said that the strike carried out by Freeport workers in May 2017 was legitimate, therefore, no worker should be fired for participating in a strike.
Director of the Papua Legal Aid Institute Emanuel Gobay called on the Papua Governor, the head of the Papuan Legislative Council, and the chair of the Papuan People's Assembly (MRP) to immediately take action to facilitate the laid-off workers to meet with PT Freeport Indonesia.
"The management of PT Freeport Indonesia must immediately reemploy the workers they have terminated for participating in a strike, activate their basic salaries and insurance," Gobay stressed.
Gobay said the laid-off Freeport workers could be reemployed as the Supreme Court had decided that the strike done by Freeport's employees in May 2017 was legal.
"The Supreme Court declared that the strike action of 8,300 PT Freeport Indonesia workers was legal. This decision was taken by the panel of judges after examining two pieces of evidence, namely a Papua Manpower Agency Letter dated September 12, 2018, and a letter from the Papua Governor dated December 19, 2018," he said.
Gobay said the strike was part of union activities that were protected by law. "It is in accordance with the provisions of Article 28 of Law No. 21/2000 on Labor Unions in conjunction with the provisions of Article 153 paragraph (1) letter G of Law No. 13/2003 on Manpower," he said.
Furthermore, Gobay said that striking workers or workers who are doing union activities are protected from layoffs. Thus, the action of PT Freeport Indonesia to terminate the employment of workers on the grounds of resigning is invalid and employees must be re-employed at their original post. "This is guaranteed by law, as stipulated in the provisions of Article 168 of Law No. 13/2003 on Manpower," said Gobay.