10 Jun 2006

New Caledonian unionists free but due in court

10:29 am on 10 June 2006

Police in New Caledonia have released the Kanak USTKE union members who were detained on Thursday when security forces broke up a port blockade.

Among those held were the union leader, Gerard Jodar, who has been ordered to appear in court on August the 22nd on charges related to both the port blockade and a protest outside the French high commission last December.

Another 12 unionists, including the USTKE vice-president, are due in court in September.

Hundreds of USTKE backers had been outside the Noumea police station yesterday demanding the leaders' release.

The USTKE union had blocked a vessel of the shipping company, MSC, as part of a campaign aimed at preventing the world's two biggest shipping lines from launching cargo services into Noumea.

USTKE claims that they will undercut existing companies which will lead to job losses.