6 Jun 2008

New Caledonia warms to French plan for social mission

11:00 am on 6 June 2008

There has been a cautiously positive reaction in New Caledonia to a recent French proposal to set up a mission aimed at improving industrial relations in the territory.

During a visit to Noumea, the junior French minister in charge of overseas terrtories, Yves Jego, suggested the formation of such a mission similar to the effort in the 1980'e which led to the Matignon accords as a framework for political dialogue.

New Caledonia has a multiple of the strikes seen in France and several unionists have been convicted for abuses emanating from industrial disputes.

The Nouvelles Caledoniennes newspaper has canvassed reactions with some key unions in the main welcoming the initiative.

The USTKE union boycotted last week's meeting with Mr Jego and now declines any comment.

Another union, the CSTNC, says it al depends on how the territorial government deals with outstanding issues.

The main employer organisation has welcomed Mr Jego's move but says it shouldn't be in competition with a loacl initiative to foster a social dialogue.