3 Dec 2005

Unionists in New Caledonia agree with company to end strike

8:15 am on 3 December 2005

Striking unionists in New Caledonia have reached an agreement with the nickel company SLN to end three weeks of industrial action.

Members of the CSTNC union have been blocking roads in a campaign to get the firm to reinstate two workers who had been sacked by SLN.

The strikers had been obstructing access to the company's smelter at Doniambo in greater Noumea which was about to run out of ore and would have forced its closure.

The managers and union delegates signed a deal last night to reinstate the two workers by February, after which they will undergo paid training for nine months before returning to full employment.

The SLN director, Luc Auffret, says a compromise has been found which is acceptable to both parties.

However Mr Auffret regretted what he called the recourse to violence as a means of discussion.

SLN is the main private sector employer in New Caledonia and it estimates it has lost about 38 million US dollars as a result of the strike.