30 Jun 2009

Jailing of New Caledonian unionists criticised

3:12 pm on 30 June 2009

There has been a strong reaction to a New Caledonian court ruling to jail six unionists for up to a year over last month's prolonged clashes at Noumea's domestic airport.

The six USTKE members, including their leader, Gerard Jodar, were sentenced for impeding air traffic at Magenta airport during a drawn out strike at the domestic airline Air Caledonie.

Speaking to reporters, the USTKE founder and leader of the Labour Party, Louis Kotra Uregei, questions the type of justice that send unionists to prison.

"I strongly condemn this type of decision and I'm calling on those who have trusted us and trust us to fight alongside us so that this country one day frees itself of this colonial justice."

The USTKE union says it will hold a march in Noumea on Saturday to back their demand the jailed members be freed, claiming the sentences are disproportionate.

Meanwhile, a French union and a small party have described the decision as scandalous, saying such a ruling would never have been made in mainland France.

The NPA party says only dictatorships don't recognise the fundamental rights to demonstrate.