27 Sep 2006

New Caledonia general strike hits fuel supplies

1:52 pm on 27 September 2006

A general strike in New Caledonia has entered its third day today and the public is beginning to feel its effects.

Most petrol stations are out of fuel as the main fuel depots have been closed since Monday by members of the CSTNC union.

Industrial bakeries have been able to reopen after shops and supermarkets ran out of bread.

This morning union members protested outside the Goro Nickel mining company headquarters in Noumea.

And, since yesterday, they have prevented the company ferry, which transports workers between Noumea and the nickel plant construction site at Goro, from sailing.

It is uncertain how long the strike will last but CSTNC leaders were scheduled to meet government representatives today.

Our correspondent says chances of a positive outcome to the meeting are not high as it is unlikely anyone will be able to propose satisfactory solutions to the unions many demands.

The unions' demands include measures to reduce the high cost of living, the immediate construction of a nickel plant in the north, and the immediate departure of foreign workers employed by Goro Nickel.