16 May 2013

New Caledonia general strike continuing

1:45 pm on 16 May 2013

Unions in New Caledonia calling for lower prices have continued their general strike for a second day.

In the Noumea area, some of the strikers have gathered outside large supermarkets, which are accused to be among the businesses charging excessive margins.

Local media reports say a road block has been set up in the north of the territory's main island and a number of boarding schools have closed.

Today's flights to Australia have been cancelled.

Yesterday, thousands of people marched through Noumea to express their frustration about the politicians' inaction to implement reforms to the economy.

According to the organisers, there were 20,000 people while the police figure is fewer than 8,000.

The mainly Kanak USTKE union has distanced itself from the strike, saying it is part of the Caledonian Union's campaign to blame other parties for the problems.

The high cost of living has been an issue of public interest for years, triggering two years ago territory-wide protests, which attracted about 25,000 people.