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Union to press for Freeport mine worker rights on Indonesia visit

TORONTO, Aug 2 (Reuters) - A trade union said on Wednesday that it will press Indonesia's government to reinstate thousands of striking workers at Freeport-McMoRan Inc's Grasberg mine when union officials visit the Southeast Asian country next week.

IndustriALL Global Union said in an emailed statement that it would formally announce plans on Thursday for its mission to support striking workers at Grasberg, the world's second-largest copper mine, and a smelter jointly owned and operated by Freeport and Mitsubishi Materials.

Arizona-based Freeport, the world's biggest publicly-traded copper miner, has repeatedly said it has acted on labor issues in accordance with Indonesian law and its labor contract.

Following export restrictions related to a permit dispute, Freeport furloughed some 3,000 workers in Indonesia earlier this year, which prompted a strike and high levels of absenteeism.

Freeport later deemed that approximately 3,000 full-time and 1,000 contract employees who were absent had "voluntarily resigned."

An estimated 5,000 workers at Grasberg have extended their strike for a fourth month, to the end of August.

The union said it would meet with senior management from Freeport's Indonesian unit and heads of the affected Indonesian unions in Jakarta on Aug. 10. Union representatives would also meet with officials from Indonesia's Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources and the Ministry of Manpower during the Aug. 8-11 visit.

IndustriALL said it wants the government to declare Freeport's furlough illegal, while recognizing that workers went on a legal and legitimate strike and did not "voluntarily resign."

The union has previously said 309 workers at PT Smelting were also deemed to have "voluntarily resigned" after taking part in a strike. (Reporting by Susan Taylor; editing by Grant McCool)