12 Jun 2010

Strike closes Tahiti's international airport

12:30 pm on 12 June 2010

International flights from and to French Polynesia have been cancelled after a broad grouping of unionists launched a general strike.

The strike, which started in the early hours of Friday morning, followed unsuccessful talks with the government and the French high commission over union demands to relaunch the economy, improving employment and reforming social security provisions.

The airport in Tahiti was short of the required number of firefighters which prompted first a Air Calin flight from Noumea to be cancelled.

Flights from Auckland and Los Angeles were also cancelled.

One flight from Los Angeles, which was low on fuel, landed while firefighters from the French military were on stand-by in the absence of the regular civilian crew.

The strike action has also paralysed the Papeete port, stopping the Moorea ferry but schools managed to open for the national French school exams.

There have been sit-ins at some public buildings, involving a cross-section of employees.