4 Aug 2009

French authorities firm against New Caledonia protestors

11:46 am on 4 August 2009

The French authorities in New Caledonia say they will remain firm in their response to the blockades and attacks by the USTKE union and its supporters.

This comes after yesterday's clashes in the northern town of Kone where protestors threw rocks and metal pieces at police, injuring 27 members of the security forces.

Police used tear gas to try to disperse the protestors who have been on strike since the beginning of last week as part of a campaign to win the release of its jailed leader, Gerard Jodar.

Today, USTKE protestors have shut down the administration in Poindimie, with the French high commission again saying that the action is illegal.

There have been nearly daily skirmishes in Noumea, causing massive to businesses and prompting counter blockades by employers.

The violence stems from an unresolved labour dispute at the domestic airline which has led to several prolonged clashes during which the USTKE leader was arrested and subsequently sentenced to one year in prison.

The unrest is the worst since a prolonged strike by the CSTNC union in 2006.