14 Sep 2009

General strike due to resume at midnight in New Caledonia

6:25 am on 14 September 2009

New Caledonia's USTKE union will resume its general strike at midnight tonight.

Tomorrow the Court of Appeal is due to release its ruling in the case of the union's leader, Gerard Jodar, who was jailed for a year in late June.

He was among several unionists to be convicted over the May clashes at Noumea's domestic airport when riot police battled hundreds of unionists during a strike at the local airline.

The jailing led to skirmishes in early August when union supporters were setting up blockades across many Noumea areas as part of an unsuccessful campaign to win the unionists' release from prison.

The local newspaper says a man has now been jailed for injuring a policeman by firing a hunting rifle at him.

While Jodar's sentence was appealed last month, the prosecution demanded that he be jailed for 15 months.

The union claims that the French judiciary has meted out sentences that are tougher than would be applied in mainland France.

This is being echoed by a French Green MP, Noel Mamere, who has labelled the jailing of the unionists in Noumea as colonial justice.

Mr Mamere has invited an USTKE delegation to visit the French assembly in Paris in his bid to show support for the unionists' political cause.