23 Dec 2004

Union claims a sixth of the population of New Caledonia boycotted national census

3:23 pm on 23 December 2004

The Union of Kanak and Exploited Workers says its sources suggest that up to fifty thousand people, which is roughly a sixth of the population of New Caledonia, have boycotted the national census.

It was carried out during the month of September but angered many after the French President Jacques Chirac said it was irresponsible and illegal to include questions about ethnic origin.

The executive member of USTKE Pierre Chauvat says this makes it impossible to keep track of how many people are moving to New Caledonia from France which could lead to fewer jobs for Kanaks and any efforts to reach independence being blocked.

Mr Chauvat says although the government has been silent on the matter, he believes they will have to carry out a new census.

"The one that has been just happening will not reflect the real population of New Caledonia and for the future needs of housing, of employment it will be difficult for the government to make any plans for the future."

The executive member of USTKE Pierre Chauvat.