New Caledonia's biggest private sector employer, the SLN nickel company, has proposed a reduction in working hours to cope with the economic downturn.
Its head, Pierre Alla, has suggested a 10-percent cut in working hours while eliminating the jobs of those who retire, which could amount to about 200 positions a year.
SLN, which runs the territory's only nickel smelter, plans to reduce
production by 20 percent this year.
It says the crisis is such that it could threaten the company's survival.
The CSTNC, which is the main union at SLN, has rejected the proposal and warned of a possible clash.
SLN is a subsidiary of the French Eramet concern which last year recorded a 873 million US dollar profit, largely due to a sharp rise in the price of the manganese which offset the plunging price of nickel.