Indonesia Freeport mine suspends production

US mining giant Freeport McMoRan's Indonesian subsidiary has suspended its operations due to fighting among workers, its spokesman said Sunday, in the latest problem to hit the troubled mine.

After a three-month strike over wages and work conditions that ended in December, production at one of the world's largest gold and copper mines was suspended on Thursday, Freeport Indonesia spokesman Ramdani Sirait said.

Some workers who participated in the strike had "engaged in acts of violence and intimidation against non-striking workers and supervisory personnel," he said in a text message.

"We are experiencing work interruptions in connection with our efforts to resume normal operations at PT Freeport Indonesia," he said.

The company is working with union officials and government authorities to resolve the issue, he added.

However, workers' union spokesman Virgo Solossa denied any violence had occurred among workers at the mine in the restive Papua province.

"There was no violence. The management is trying to discredit us and make us look bad to others. Its aim is to weaken us as a solid and strong union," he told AFP.

Around 8,000 of Freeport's 23,000 workers went on strike on September 15, slashing production by 50 percent.

The workers agreed to return to the mine on December 17 after negotiating a 37 percent pay increase on wages that started at $1.50 an hour for unionised members and better conditions for contractors.

The strike at the mine triggered a spate of violence, with at least eight people killed in ambush attacks and clashes with police in the already troubled province.

It was one of a wave of industrial actions across Southeast Asia's largest economy, where the cost of living is rising and a burgeoning middle class is demanding a greater share of the nation's economic success.

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