18 Sep 2004

Police break picket lines in New Caledonia strike

8:36 am on 18 September 2004

New Caledonia's only daily newspaper says some unionists are angry at police intervention to break an illegal blockade and may want to escalate their strike.

Ten unarmed police yesterday broke a union blockade of the Nouvelles Caledoniennes newspaper in Noumea, freeing the office building from about 20 strikers.

The union involved, USOENC, says it's considering what it will do next in its dispute over an employment issue.

Newspaper managers say they're pleased the Government has finally stood up to the strikers, a week after a court ruling that access should be allowed to the building.

But a newspaper manager, Roland Andrei says police action doesn't mean the strike has been broken, and he has no idea what strikers will do next.

"They're very angry so I don't think they will stay at this point. I think they're going to do something else. We don't know what but one of the advantages for us is that there is some disagreement inside the union, so this might go on our side really."

The newspaper says it'll begin publishing again immediately.

Mr Andrei says he believes some of the strikers will now return to work. He says the newspaper will also begin negotiating with some USOENC members about concerns in the newspaper's advertising department.