5 Apr 2006

New Caledonian nickel mine workers march to save jobs

9:30 am on 5 April 2006

Up to 17-hundred employees of New Caledonia's Goro Nickel company plan to march to the French high commission in Noumea today in support of action to secure their jobs.

Weekend attacks by Kanak activists on the Goro construction site in the territory's south have caused more than 10 million US dollars in damages to vehicles and installations, prompting the company to stop operations indefinitely.

At a value of 2 billion US dollars, Goro is the biggest project under construction in the South Pacific.

Goro Nickel is now set to temporarily lay off its work force while asking the French state to provide guarantees for the staff's safety in order to resume operations.

Yesterday's planned roundtable talks failed to take place because the Kanak group ,opposed to the project because of the plant's environmental impact, stayed away.

The New Caledonian president, Marie-Noelle Themereau says previous talks have failed to take into account demands for possible royalty payments for the Kanaks - an idea she says she is opposed to.