30 Mar 2009

Nickel workers in New Caledonia protest again possible cuts

6:04 am on 30 March 2009

An estimated 200 members of New Caledonia's CSTNC union

have held a demonstration outside the government seat, demanding that working hours remain the same at the SLN nickel company.

Last month, SLN proposed a ten percent cut in the number of hours worked to cope with the economic downturn and the planned 20 percent decrease in nickel production this year.

The AFP news agency says the demonstrators have also asked the government to oppose cuts at SLN, which is the territory's biggest private sector employer.

Several unions have made use of their right to check the

company's books, with first findings to be made public this week.

They have denounced the cost of production and point out that since 2000, SLN has more than doubled the number of directors.

Pierre Frogier, who represents New Caledonia in the French assembly, says the current crisis has shown up SLN's strategic errors.