15 Jun 2006

New Caledonian union ends strike for talks with French expert

1:24 pm on 15 June 2006

The New Caledonian USTKE union is looking forward to tomorrow's discussions with a French expert on port issues following yesterday's 24-hour general strike.

The strike was aimed at stopping a ship of the multi-national MSC company in a dispute over port access for new companies.

The territorial government has organised a commission has invited an expert from the French ministry of transport, Yves Gauthier, to look into the matter.

The union is still asking for a quota system for cargo being unloaded in the Noumea port intended to protect local companies from being forced out.

USTKE union representative, Pierre Chauvat, says they are looking forward to have discussions, but will continue their strike action if they are unsuccessful.

"Yesterday there was a general strike of 24 hours, because the ship MSC (New) Caledonia was due to arrive in the port in the afternoon in Noumea. Yesterday morning we put some strikers on the airport, and the biggest supermarket in New Caledonia, Carrefour, was closed as well, as well as the RFO station."

Mr Chauvat says strikers also marched to the port.

A ship from the multi-national Maersk company is reportedly expected to arrive on Saturday.