31 Oct 2006

Appeal court in New Caledonia upholds jail sentence for unionist Nea

5:02 pm on 31 October 2006

An appeal court in New Caledonia has upheld a three-month prison sentence given to the CSTNC union leader, Sylvain Nea, for his role in last year's protest action against the SLN nickel company.

The ruling was made this morning and relates to the blockades in Noumea over the sacking of two SLN employees which led to massive traffic problems, businesses and banks being closed and the Noumea port being shut down.

His lawyer has told RFO radio that the sentence is very tough.

It is not clear if Nea will take the case for a final appeal the highest criminal court in France.

Meanwhile, today's planned talks between the CSTNC union and members of the Congress have been called off.

They were deferred yesterday as the union was still considering its response to proposals to end a six-week strike.

The union is demanding action on several issues including the high cost of living, the departure of Filipino construction workers employed by the Goro

Nickel mining company, and the immediate construction of a nickel smelter in the Northern Province.