A former French prime minister, Michel Rocard, has called on New Caledonian judges to show some understanding in the case of the jailed USTKE unionists whose appeal was heard on Tuesday.
Mr Rocard, who was instrumental in easing the territory's tensions of the mid 1980s, says the judges need to appease the situation which relates to skirmishes in May at the height of a strike.
He says the sacking of an employee at the domestic airline was not a matter of ethnicity but a question of social dignity.
Among the unionists jailed over the May unrest is their leader, Gerard Jodar, whose further detention will be determined when the appeal court verdict is to be published on September the 15th.
His lawyer says the French state wants his head for setting up the Labour Party, adding that any union blockade is nowadays being removed as part of a political move.
The prosecution has in turn alleged that Jodar has not been pursuing a union campaign but used labour disputes in a bid to seize political power.