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Indonesia: another four workers killed at Freeport, Rio Tinto Grasberg mine

2 October, 2014IndustriALL Global Union condemns Freeport McMoRan and Rio Tinto for the loss of yet another four innocent lives.

As a result of an accident at Freeport McMoRan’s and Rio Tinto’s Grasberg mine on 27 September 2014 four mineworkers lost their lives. Four more miners were injured and one of them seriously hurt.

On 1 October IndustriALL affiliate Chemical, Energy and Mines Workers Union (CEMWU) representing the majority of the workers at Grasberg mine went on strike and blocked the road to the mine demanding punishment of the director of mining, provision of guarantees of no more fatal accidents and for the company to pay financial support to the families of the deceased and injured. Following the strike the management came into negotiations and agreed to workers’ demands, after which the strike stopped.

In the aftermath of the Grasberg mine disaster, serious questions were raised about Freeport McMoRan’s and Rio Tinto’s commitment to mine safety. Earlier in September another worker was killed in a rockfall at Grasberg mine . These tragedies happened less than two years after 28 mineworkers died at Grasberg mine in what was described as the worst mining accident in the history of Indonesia. Another accident at the Grasberg mine killed 11 mineworkers in 2003.

In the wake of the mine accident at Grasberg on 14 May 2013, IndustriALL Global Union organized a high level delegation to Indonesia to protest against the killing of mineworkers in accidents proved to be preventable. At the end of the mission the delegation concluded that the accident clearly illustrated the urgent need for the ratification of ILO Convention 176 in Indonesia.

Jyrki Raina, IndustriALL General Secretary says,

Our condolences go to the families of the perished workers. This should not have happened. How many more lives must be lost at Grasberg before Freeport McMoRan and Rio Tinto take the safety and health of mineworkers seriously and invest in health and safety? How many should die before the Government of Indonesia decides to ratify ILO Convention 176 on mine safety? I urge now the Government of Indonesia to assume their full responsibility and urgently to start designing a safety program to prevent more deaths and injuries of workers”.

The Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources has temporarily shut down the mine for the purpose of investigating the accident. Without preempting the outcome of the investigation into this accident, IndustriALL Global Union joins the call by the Confederation of SPSI, the National Center of CEMWU-SPSI and FSPMI-KSPI demanding ratification of ILO Convention 176. In addition, IndustriALL Global Union supports the demands of our affiliates to:

  1. Strongly urge the Police Chief Commander, Minister of Energy and Mineral Resources to thoroughly investigate the accident and seriously consider the Recommendation passed by Human Rights Commission on the 14 May 2013 accident which amongst other things, called for the implementation of the law No. 1/1970 on Safety and Health.
  2. Call those in charge to account for the accident and be held individually and collectively responsible.
  3. Strongly urge Freeport and Rio Tinto management to commit to health and safety and to give assurance that such accidents will not happen again.