6 Mar 2020

New Caledonia's SLN suspends operations in Thio following strikes

1:44 pm on 6 March 2020

New Caledonia's biggest private sector employer, SLN nickel, has suspended its operations in Thio following weeks of industrial action.

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Photo: RNZ / Johnny Blades

The mining site in the north of the main island had seen strikes since mid-January as opposition continues to a restructure, which was agreed on in 2018.

SLN said it had taken that step for the safety of its staff and to protect its installations.

A freighter due to load nickel ore for the smelter in Noumea was blocked in Thio this week by a group of subcontractors resisting the restructure.

SLN wants to change the working week by getting employees to put in more hours on working days but in return to work on fewer days.

As part of plans to increase productivity, SLN also wants some people to work on Sundays which continues to be opposed.

SLN has 2000 staff in New Caledonia but in the past seven years it has run up losses of about $US1 billion.

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