13 Oct 2006

Police in New Caledonia lift union blockade at SLN company

10:43 am on 13 October 2006

French police in New Caledonia have lifted a blockade set up by the CSTNC union at the SLN nickel smelter in Noumea.

The police moved before dawn and protestors left the blockade without resistance.

The SLN had been under siege since the beginning of last week, reportedly losing one million US dollars a day because of missed production.

The union had lifted the blockade briefly for a day and a half but erected it again yesterday afternoon.

The CSTNC has been on strike for the past three weeks and has mainly targeted the nickel sector, but none of its demands relate to the SLN company.

The CSTNC is demanding the immediate departure of Filipino workers employed by the Goro Nickel mining company, the immediate construction of a nickel smelter in the north of New Caledonia and measures to reduce the high cost of living.

More and more union members have been arriving at the SLN since the police intervention this morning but so far they have not taken any action.