19 May 2003

Up to three thousand march in Papeete as dispute between the French Polynesian government and health

7:48 am on 19 May 2003

An estimated three thousand people have marched through the streets of Papeete in a deepening dispute between French Polynesian health professionals and the state health insurance scheme, the CPS.

The march came after the doctors suspended their unprecedented strike which they began last month to protest against changes proposed by CPS.

The CPS refused to have fresh negotiations about proposed changes to its provisions unless the doctors ended their action which had reduced care to emergency services only.

As the strike was suspended for five days, the government decided to loosen restrictions on the hiring of foreign doctors which the parliamentary opposition immediately denounced as a provocation.

Yesterday's protest march was backed by opposition parties, veterans of the Mururoa nuclear weapons test sites and a number of unions.

The president's office says they are not planning to consider all of the doctor's demands.