29 Jul 2004

Dock workers in New Caledonia threaten widespread strike action

7:30 pm on 29 July 2004

New Caledonia looks set to face widespread strike action by dock workers.

Unionists in Noumea are planning national strike action in protest

over what they believe are imminent job losses at Manutrans, one of the stevedoring companies.

Police moved in to lift a five-day blockade at the main wharf in Noumea today that had prevented offloading of two cargo ships containing essential items.

But members of the Union of Kanak and Exploited Workers, the USTKE, are now threatening further action.

Pierre Chauvat, an executive member of the union, says Manutrans has lost a quarter of its cargo freight business and 45 workers stand to lose their jobs.

"Police have moved this five day blockade in the ports of Noumea. And in reaction to this enforcement of the blockade the USTKE has called for a general strike which will take place in different places at different times."

One of stranded vessels was the Sofrana d'Urville from Brisbane, which was carrying more than 200 containers, including food and dairy products from New Zealand.