22 Jul 2008

French Polynesians march as French minister promises support

2:57 pm on 22 July 2008

Fewer than 2,000 people have joined a march in French Polynesia which was organised by the main unions to demonstrate against the high cost of living.

The march was billed as a general strike to coincide with the first visit to Papeete by the junior French overseas territories minister, Yves Jego.

The marchers have also asked for the civilian jobs linked to the French military presence in Tahiti be maintained after a defence white paper called for troop cuts.

The unions have also called for the indexation of salaries and pensions paid out overseas to be retained just weeks after Mr Jego announced that pension top-ups of to 75 percent percent would have to go.

Meanwhile in Papeete, the minister is quotes as saying that no reform of the indexation of the public servants' pays working overseas had been done.

During a visit to Faa'a, Mr Jego restated France's commitment to assist the hundreds of people living in substandard housing near the airport.

Mr Jego dismissed calls for France to fund the running of the new hospital being finished in Papeete.