14 Jun 2006

New Caledonia hit by USTKE general strike

1:58 pm on 14 June 2006

New Caledonia's USTKE union has launched a general strike as part of its challenge to the arrival of the shipping company, MSC, in the port of Noumea.

The action comes after a warning last week but the stoppage had been put on hold after the union leaders had been detained and charged over the port blockade late last week and a commitment had been given for further talks.

Today's action has affected bus services in the Noumea area and domestic flights as well as the public broadcaster at which intermittent USTKE strikes are in their third month.

Several hundred union members are reported to outside the USTKE premises to decide how to proceed with the strike.

The union is still demanding a quota system for cargo being offloaded in Noumea in a policy aimed at protecting local companies from being squeezed out by the world's biggest shipping lines, Maersk and MSC whose ship is due to dock today.