Freeport Indonesia union says reaches tentative deal on wages


JAKARTA, Oct 2 (Reuters) - Freeport-McMoRan Copper & GoldInc reached a tentative agreement with Indonesian unionworkers on Wednesday over wages and pensions, a union officialsaid, raising hopes that a strike will be averted with just twodays left of talks.

Contract talks between workers and management at Freeport'sGrasberg mine in Papua, which is the world's second-biggestcopper mine, have entered their fourth month and are scheduledto end on Friday with or without a deal.

"We can say that in principle we have reached an agreementon pay talks with Freeport management including on wages andpensions," Juli Parorrongan, spokesman for the workers' unions,told Reuters. "The final agreement has not yet been reachedbecause there are still several points to be discussed further."

He said strike action was still an option for the union if afinal agreement was not reached this week.

Freeport's Indonesian unit could not be reached immediatelyfor comment on Wednesday.

The negotiations, which are seeking agreement on workers'wages, benefits, rights, obligations and pensions, weresuspended in May when a tunnel collapse killed 28 people, andthen resumed in June.

Late last month, the talks stalled despite the high levelinvolvement of Freeport Indonesia CEO Rozik Soetjipto andFreeport CEO Richard Adkerson.

"All the points that we have agreed with Freeport managementhave to be written into a joint work agreement between both theunion and Freeport," said Parorrongan. "As long as the new jointwork agreement is yet to be signed, everything can happen."

Freeport Indonesia employs about 24,000 workers, includingcontractors and staff. About three-quarters are union members.

Relations between Freeport and unions have been strained inrecent years following a three-month strike in 2011, May'sdeadly tunnel collapse and a series of minor spats.

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