25 Nov 2005

Talks to resolve New Caledonia industrial unrest so far inconclusive

10:18 am on 25 November 2005

Talks between striking unionists and New Caledonia's nickel smelting company have so proved inconclusive, after widespread unrest.

Striking unionists have been blocking the main roads to New Caledonia's territorial capital, Noumea.

Members of the CST-NC union have been placing heavy machinery and shipment containers on the highway.

They've used bulldozers to offload tons of gravel and sulphur, and they've set fire to piles of tyres, shrouding the city's access roads in black smoke.

CSTNC has been also been staging blockades at the main smelter of the French nickel company Société Le Nickel or SLN.

Since early this month, they have been demanding that two of their members, sacked by SLN, should be reinstated.

The outcome of talks between the SLN management and union leaders last night isn't yet clear.

About a thousand members of the local employers' federation have held a demonstration outside the French high commission in Noumea.

These employers urged the French government to uphold law and order...

"...with the roads blocked, you can't get to town, you can't get material to clients... it's to defend the freedom to work, and the freedom to move around."