8 Jun 2006

French police regain control of main port of Noumea

7:41 pm on 8 June 2006

French police in New Caledonia have stepped in to regain control of the main port of Noumea.

The port has remained mainly controlled by striking picketers and union members for the past two weeks, posing a threat to the international security standards compliance of this port of call.

The Kanak USTKE union has been in a dispute with international shipping giant MSC which has had one of its vessel blocked in the port of Noumea amid a union demand that its freight volume be restricted by a quota.

At around 1:30 in the afternoon local time, police acted on a warrant issued by a local administrative tribunal, following a complaint from Noumea Port Authorities that demanded that normal security conditions be restored on the wharf.

Last weekend, a container vessel "Asia Decimo", owned by multinational company Maersk, decided not to unload its containers at their scheduled destination, Noumea, because it assessed security conditions were not met.

Maersk had also been blocked from the port by USTKE which claims the introduction of these new shipping lines threatens the jobs of local wharfies, and the operations of regional shipping companies.