19 Feb 2016

Nickel workers on strike in New Caledonia

2:37 pm on 19 February 2016

Dozens of employees of New Caledonia's SLN nickel company have gone on strike in protest at possible job cuts announced this week.

The action slowed production at the smelter in Noumea as unions want discussions about SLN's decision to implement 73 measures in the face of catastrophic losses, which last year exceeded 300 million US dollars.

The main union said while no dismissals have been announced, about six million dollars will be taken off the salary allocation, which could mean 150 job losses.

SLN has said the measures are temporary and could affect work schedules.

The sharp fall in the price of nickel prompted Paris to promise financial assistance to the industry as it is the backbone of the territory's economy.

Earlier this week, the New Caledonian government officially declared a crisis in the nickel industry.

This allows for the release of money from the Nickel Fund, set up in 2009 to help miners cope with a crisis.