22 Oct 2007

Holcim and USTKE in continued stalemate in New Caledonia

3:33 pm on 22 October 2007

The cement company Holcim has announced it would gladly face competition in New Caledonia, as a strike at the territory's only cement factory continues.

Tomorrow it will be a month since industrial action halted production at the plant, and brought the territory's normally booming construction industry to a near standstill.

According to the newspaper Les Nouvelles Caledoniennes, union members are themselves planning to deliver the 2,000 tonnes of cement the company still has in stock to building contractors early this week.

Workers from the Union of Kanak and Exploited Workers are demanding two more jobs at the plant - which Holcim has refused - and an end to the Swiss-owned company's monopoly.

Holcim's Director General, Henri Tiedrez, says the stand-off has gone on too long.

Holcim says if its monopoly is a problem then the New Caledonian government should allow imports of cement from overseas.

Mr Tiedrez says public order is no longer guaranteed in New Caledonia and the firm's equipment and products are at risk.