Former workers at US-owned miner Freeport Indonesia injured in clash with police

Police talk with protesting workers of the Indonesian unit of the US mining giant Freeport McMoran Inc during a labour dispute in Timika, Papua, Indonesia August 19, 2017. REUTERS/Muhammad Yamin Top News

Hundreds of workers laid off by Freeport Indonesia clashed with security forces, injuring three, near the company’s mines in the eastern province of Papua on Saturday, company and union officials said. The Indonesian unit of U.S. mining giant Freeport McMoran Inc. has been embroiled in a labour dispute since May, when around 5,000 workers went on strike to protest against mass layoffs.

Freeport says the layoffs were triggered by unexpected revisions earlier this year in government rules on taxes and royalties. Police on Saturday fired warning shots in the air to disperse the crowd of ex-workers who were demanding their jobs back, blocking roads and setting trucks on fire. Union official Tri Puspital said police then fired into the crowd, injuring three. A national police spokesman declined to comment.

A spokesman for the company said the protests have not had an impact on operations, although employee access to worksites was being affected. “Some of our employee convoys have been cancelled and we will not be scheduling further convoys until the situation is conducive again. We have urged our workers to avoid this area until further notice,” said Freeport Indonesia spokesman Riza Pratama. The company is a major source of employment and livelihoods in the impoverished eastern-most province of Indonesia.

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