28 May 2009

Police use tear gas to prevent occupation of New Caledonia domestic airport

7:17 pm on 28 May 2009

French riot police have used tear gas to dislodge New Caledonian unionists who had tried to seize Noumea's domestic airport.

Some members of the mainly Kanak USTKE union, including its leader Gerard Jodar, cut through the perimeter fence and entered two ATR planes of the domestic carrier Aircal.

The confrontation lasted for several hours and police arrested 30 unionists.

The French high commissioner, Yves Dassonville, says an explosive device was found on one of the aircraft which have now been grounded for three days.

The clashes followed a disagreement between the union and the airline management which refused to pay wages for the days on which the unionists were on strike.