21 Sep 2004

New Caledonia's government attempts mediation over blockade of paper

1:10 pm on 21 September 2004

The government of New Caledonia is attempting to mediate in the blockade of the only daily newspaper but with little success.

The Economic Affairs minister, Didier Leroux, says the Work Inspection agency is speaking to both the union involved and newspaper management but the union is refusing to budge.

It is demanding that the paper sack a recently-appointed manager, who's lived there for only two years, and install a local.

But, Mr Leroux says the law protects the manager, who's pregnant and cannot be fired, and the blockade is illegal.

"It's very difficult because the positions are so weird that really nobody can deal with it. And, I mean the problem comes from unions which are not educated enough, and which are claiming things which are really illegal, and not possible."

Mr Leroux says he is aware the union may call a general strike on Thursday.

He also says the local government can't intervene in the blockade of the country's television and radio station, RFO, which is entering its second month, as it's run by France.