29 Nov 2005

New Caledonia nickel strike unresolved, fuel supply at risk

4:28 pm on 29 November 2005

New Caledonia's SLN nickel company is to put almost its entire workforce on a short working week because of the disruption caused by an indefinite strike by the CSTNC union that is now in its third week.

The SLN management says the measure will be effective as of late next week because its mining sites are being blockaded in a stand-off over the dismissal of two SLN workers.

Their union has crippled the plant in its bid to have them re-instated but SLN says it won't rehire them until late next year at the earliest.

CSTNC members have now put a blockade on the territory's main fuel depots, causing traffic problems in the area.

The French high commission has urged for a dialogue to overcome the crisis.

Meanwhile, the deadlock continues in efforts to finalise the nickel plant in the north of New Caledonia.

While the French government says it is committed to the rebalancing of the territory's economy, the principal company in the northern project has accused Paris of killing the project by imposing conditions that no bank can accept.