15 Jun 2006

New Caledonia port discussions due to start

7:10 pm on 15 June 2006

An expert from the French ministry of transport is expected to start discussions with New Caledonian unionists, dockers and the MSC multi national shipping company tomorrow to help find a solution in the port dispute.

The union is asking for a quota system for cargo being unloaded in the Noumea port intended to protect local companies from being forced out.

A New Caledonian government spokesperson says the government has set up a commission and the expert, Yves Gauthier, will start his inspections and talks with the stakeholders tomorrow [Friday].

The spokesperson also says negotiations could start next week.

An USTKE union representative, Pierre Chauvat, says they are confident that the commission will be able to find a solution.

And he says the union's action is working.

"We want just guarantees that MSC will not destabilize the stability of the port. That is all. And the first time that MSC came they dropped off 30 containers, yesterday they dropped off 18 containers. And they would be well off with our first proposal of [not dropping off more than] one hundred containers a week until we find a long-term settlement."

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Pierre Chauvat