17 Jan 2019

New Caledonia nickel strike now in third week

4:02 pm on 17 January 2019

A strike at mines run by the nickel company SLN in New Caledonia has entered its third week.

SLN smelter in Noumea New Caledonia

SLN smelter in Noumea New Caledonia Photo: RNZ Walter Zweifel

Two unions oppose changes to work patterns introduced as part of a restructure of SLN, which is running at a loss.

The changes involved longer working hours but fewer days of work as well as changes to leave entitlement.

The mines affected by the strike are in Thio, Tiebaghi and Nepoui.

The changes had been agreed to by the unions' umbrella organisations but are being rejected by the workers at the mine.

One representative at the mine has told the public broadcaster that it's not acceptable that unionists at the nickel plant in Noumea can sign on behalf of the miners.

For SLN the change is meant to optimise the use of its equipment.

The new work regime has been in force at SLN's mine at Kouaoua.

That site was hit by a blockade last year which interrupted ore supplies to the SLN smelter in Noumea.

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