By Michael Taylor and Yayat Supriatna
JAKARTA, June 14 (Reuters) - Trade union workers at the Freeport McMoRan Copper and Gold Inc mine in Indonesia called off a planned strike due to start on Friday, officials said, after last-minute talks brokered a deal.
On Monday, union officials sent a letter to Freeport management demanding five senior Indonesian employees at the world’s second-biggest copper mine be suspended after a training tunnel collapsed on May 14, killing 28 people. It suspected that those five bore responsibility for the accident at the mine in remote West Papua.
Papua-based union official Virgo Solossa said the five had now been suspended.
“The planned strike by the workers today is cancelled,” Freeport Indonesia spokeswoman Daisy Primayanti said by text message. “Workers are returning back to work with their usual schedules.” She gave no further details.
Arizona-based Freeport declared force majeure on Wednesday to free itself from obligations to deliver copper concentrate from its Grasberg mine. Production was suspended one day after the tunnel collapse but workers at the mine have been carrying out maintenance duties.
Any walkout could have delayed the eventual resumption of production and further strained ties between the two sides after a three-month strike in late 2011. Planned pay talks were also put on hold last month.
Freeport employs about 24,000 workers, of which three-quarters belong to the union.
The head of the Energy and Minerals Resources Ministry investigation into the accident has said a final report on the accident would be handed to the government by early next week at the latest.
The union has said production should not resume until all investigations are completed.
Resuming production would not be automatic, union spokesman Juli Parorrongan said, adding the union would want to evaluate the final report and see if Freeport implements all recommendations.
“We will also will review whether the safety system has been improved or not,” Parorrongan said.