20 Nov 2006

New Caledonian union says eight week strike may be called off

6:19 am on 20 November 2006

The leader of New Caledonia's CSTNC union, Sylvain Nea, has conceded that its eight-week strike has not gone well and may be called off.

The union demanded that the government resign, Filipino workers leave and the cost of living be lowered.

The strike has mainly affected the SLN nickel company, which has incurred huge losses because of mine blockades that forced the smelter to reduce its output to a minimum.

Les Nouvelle Caledoniennes says SLN has borne the brunt of the industrial action although it employs no Filipinos.

Mr Nea's supporters have in recent weeks caused major disruptions to public life and assaulted members of the public.

The union leader has described such action as rustic methods that have shocked people.

Mr Nea has told a news conference the tension was not between New Caledonia's ethnic groups, but between the rich and poor.