15 Sep 2004

New Caledonian union warns against police action to end strike

4:02 pm on 15 September 2004

New Caledonia's largest union says there will be trouble if police are told to enforce a court order in an ongoing strike at the country's only daily newspaper.

21 workers belonging to the 3,000-strong USOENC union are blocking access to the Nouvelles Caledoniennes newspaper.

The blockade in Noumea and the Ducos printing shop continues despite a court ruling that the workers must grant access.

The union went on strike last week in protest at newspaper managers employing a French national instead of giving the job to someone from New Caledonia.

A union representative, Carmen Marty, says they will not back down on their demand that local people should be first in line for jobs.

She says she understands the newspaper will ask police to move them, but says this would work against them, and the Government, in the longer term.

"We don't know what will happen because our trade union is number one in New Caledonia. We know our trade union will go on the street if they do that. The state doesn't want the police to take the people because there is going to be big, big trouble in the town."

Meanwhile, the Union of Kanak and Exploited Workers, or USTKE, says there is no resolution in sight either to its month-long battle with public radio and television station, RFO, over another employment matter.

A union spokesman Pierre Chauvat says that strike, which has paralysed local news and sports coverage, will be resolved but it's still early days.