20 Oct 2006

Unionists march in New Caledonia's four-week strike

2:27 pm on 20 October 2006

An estimated 350 members of New Caledonia's CSTNC union are marching through the capital, Noumea, as part of their four-week long strike action.

The union's early demands included the resignation of the government, the departure of all Filipino and foreign workers, and cheaper living costs.

But now its leader, Sylvain Nea, is only insisting that the northern nickel project, aimed at developing the territory's mainly Kanak area, go ahead.

Our correspondent, Tuo Chinula, says the CSTNC union has marched from the Doniambo area to the government buildings.

"Between 300 and 400 protestors are taking part in the march through the streets of Noumea. They have stopped at various stations, such as outside the town hall in Noumea. They have also stopped outside the government and they submitted a list of their demands to the government."

There are conflicting reports about the blockades at the SLN sites, with local radio saying some ore off-loading is being hampered.

But police say there are no blockades.

The Goro Nickel mining company, meanwhile, says all its operations are back to normal after it was forced to reduce its workforce at its construction site by about a third.