13 Dec 2005

Union demonstration outside French high commission in New Caledonia

7:25 pm on 13 December 2005

About 500 people are outside the French high commission in New Caledonia in a demonstration to demand that France back the nickel project in the territory's north.

The Kanak union USTKE has set up blockades at mines and government offices in a territory-wide general strike.

It also wants the French state-owned mining conglomerate Eramet to abandon its legal action to block a possible transfer of the Koniambo ore deposit in the north.

This push is also being backed by the president of the territory's congress, Harold Martin.

An USTKE leader, Pierre Chauvat, says if Eramet fails to heed the call and should Eramet win the court case, there will be a response from the union by tightening its grip on Eramet assets, including its subsidiary SLN.

"This is a matter of survival for New Caledonia and its people. It's to get back and control our natural resources."

It's a far more important subject that anything else that goes around this country.