13 Nov 2008

Strikers prevent French high commissioner from leaving French Polynesia

10:39 am on 13 November 2008

About 300 striking public service employees at Tahiti's international airport have prevented the French high commissioner, Adolphe Colrat, from leaving French Polynesia.

The action was taken at the start of an open-ended strike in protest at the French decision to cut public sector pensions for retirees overseas.

Mr Colrat was due to fly to New Caledonia where he was scheduled to meet the junior French minister in charge of overseas territories, Yves Jego.

The French Polynesian president, Gaston Tong Sang, who had earlier planned to join the meeting in Noumea, cancelled his trip before the incident at the airport.

The pension reform is being debated in the French senate in Paris after the French assembly approved cuts to benefits which were introduced in the 1950s as incentives for those working in the colonies.