28 May 2008

New Caledonia's USTKE union calls for a general strike

11:01 am on 28 May 2008

New Caledonia's mainly Kanak USTKE union has called for a general strike to coincide with Thursday's arrival in Noumea of the French junior minister in charge of overseas territories, Yves Jego.

The USTKE leader, Gerard Jodar, says the action is in protest at the French state's policy of sending security forces to back employers in industrial disputes.

Mr Jodar says the union wants Mr Jego to understand that the government should no longer be at the service of employers and revert to a healthier use of the police.

Last month, a New Caledonian court sentenced 23 USTKE members, including Mr Jodar, to jail terms of up to a year over last January's clashes with police in Noumea.

Mr Jodar, who is appealing his six-month jail term, was sentenced for directing striking workers during a prolonged fight near a bus depot at the centre of a strike.