New strike hits Freeport's Indonesian mine

Hundreds of workers at Freeport-McMoRan's Indonesian mine have gone on strike demanding better pay, the US firm said Wednesday, in the latest industrial action to hit the operation.

Some 1,100 workers, employed by contractors and not directly by the company, downed tools on Tuesday at the Grasberg mine in eastern Papua province, one of the world's largest gold and copper mines, Freeport's Indonesian unit said.

A three-month strike over wages by thousands of workers directly employed by Freeport crippled production at the mine in 2011 and only ended once the firm agreed to a huge pay hike.

Workers from contractors Jasti Pravita, Osato Seike and Srikandi Mitra Karya, were involved in the latest action, according to Freeport.

They were mostly construction workers hired to work on an expansion of the mine, their union said.

"The strike of course could slow down Freeport Indonesia's activities, but we don't anticipate any direct impact to the overall mining operation and production," the company said in a statement.

Mining union Mimika, which represents those involved in the strike, said the action "would hurt the firm's operation".

Union official Virgo Solossa said the workers were threatening a month-long strike. "But we hope the workers and the firm can reach a deal on pay before that," he added.

An official from the union representing workers directly employed by Freeport said none of them was involved in the action and had no plans to strike.

Industrial action is on the rise in Southeast Asia's biggest economy, with foreign companies in particular targeted, as the cost of living increases and workers demand a greater share of the nation's economic success.