By Luc Tutugoro.
4th August 2009.
USTKE (Kanak and workers union for independence) began a strike when a dispute between the decision made by Niddoish Naisseline, Chairman of the Airline company AIRCAL domestic over the sacking of a employee union member.
The protest is also in response to a lack of communication with regard to transparency and the mismanagement on the part of AIRCAL itself that has generated an appalling deficit .
French government officials including the Minister in charge of all French Departments and Territories travelled to Noumea to try and resolve the deteriorating situation through force.
Numerous clashes that went on between teargas-armed special police and union supporters have left dozen of police and protesters injured.
The Chairman of USTKE and other union members have been found guilty of “disruption of an aircraft’ during earlier police clashes at the local airport.
The Labour Party said that: “jailing of union prominent members is a part of a police repression and a move from France to criminalize union membership. Union and political prisoners are, at this stage, without clear status”.
While USTKE said it suspended its actions after an eleventh hour agreement had been reached with a reluctant AIRCAL Chairman N. Naisseline, it remains uneasy over USTKE Chairman Joddard’s one year jail sentence.
Business leaders, politicians, and public servants and employees lead a March for Peace and Common Destiny to spread an apolitical message across the spectrum of New Caledonian society, in opposition to violence in the French pacific territory.
Natalie Brimguier of the march organizing committee said to RFO local TV “What we want is to express our will regardless of our walks of life and ethnicity. To walk together and live in peace.”
Right wing politicians fully backed the march and the President of the local Government, Phillip Gomez, had allowed employees and public servants to take part without losing their half day salary.
Such a move prompted an angry reaction from the FLNKS (Kanak liberation Front) component of the multi-party Local government – denouncing the March as a public relations stunt.
USTKE members will be able to claim an advance over one month salary and it already warning of a action that could resume in the days preceding the court hearing as part of Joddard`s appeal against his sentencing on August 25.
A “mobilisation” been annonced By USTKE over the all country on August 22 which many fear could again turn violent, and has announced an appeal hearing of the jailed union president is to held on the 25th August this month.
Daily local newspaper