18 Aug 2009

New Caledonia's Jodar claims to be victim of French campaign

10:44 am on 18 August 2009

The jailed leader of New Caledonia's USTKE union, Gerard Jodar, says the process which landed him and some of his associates in jail is part of a French campaign to target him.

In an interview with the French newspaper, Liberation, Jodar says the French state, New Caledonia's bosses and local right-wing parties share a dream of seeing the USTKE union vanish.

In June, Jodar was jailed for a year for his role in the prolonged skirmishes at Noumea's domestic airport during which he entered an aircraft of the domestic carrier at the centre of a labour dispute.

Jodar has also called for the resignation of the French high commissioner, Yves Dassonville, whom he accused of giving brutal instructions while claiming to maintain law and order.

The USTKE union has plans for a day of unspecified action this Saturday in support of its demands for Jodar's release.

This comes a week after New Caledonia saw the biggest rally in a generation sparked by disruptions following blockades by the USTKE union.