10 Nov 2004

Hotel union workers in French Polynesia go on strike

4:18 pm on 10 November 2004

French Polynesia's second biggest union says two thousand workers walked off the job in hotels today, with hundreds staging a protest in the capital, Papeete.

And, the O Oe To Oe Rima union says its protest action, over wage talks and the ongoing government stalemate, is now open-ended, with transport the next target.

The 8'000-strong union is linked to the ousted government led by Oscar Temaru.

The strike was called after employers suspended pay talks.

The employers acted because the newly elected president, Gaston Flosse, announced a 15 percent increase in the minimum wage from December 1st without consulting them.

The union's president, Hirohiti Tefaarere, says today's strike brought hotels to a standstill in Moorea and Tahiti.

"It's not easy to receive tourists and the crisis is now a reality. And we hope our demand of wages are accepted by the government and by the employers but we kniw it's not very easy. And, in politics, we hope the French Government decides quickly to return again before the electors of our country."

Hirohiti Tefaarere.

Several hotels have reported they have not been affected by the strike action.

Meanwhile, sources say hundreds of striking union members marched through Papeete to the presidential offices occupied by Mr Temaru's administration.