12 Jun 2006

Planned New Caledonia strike on hold

10:15 am on 12 June 2006

New Caledonia's USTKE union has suspended its plans for this week's general strike following last Thursday's arrests of its leaders over the Noumea port blockade.

The USTKE president, Gerard Jodar, was among more than a dozen people detained and charged for blocking a vessel of the MSC shipping company.

They are to appear in court in August and September and if found guilty, they can face jail sentences.

Radio New Caledonia reports that the strike is on hold but says a test may be Wednesday's scheduled return of a ship of MSC which is the world's second biggest shipping company.

The USTKE union wants MSC and another shipping company, Maersk, to be restricted in their Noumea service amid concern that they could force existing companies out of business.