NEW CALEDONIA’S RFO TELEVISION AND RADIO SILENCED BY PICKETERS BEFOREARTS FESTIVAL START

NEW CALEDONIA’S RFO TELEVISION AND RADIO SILENCED BY PICKETERS BEFORE ARTS FESTIVAL START

NOUMÉA, New Caledonia (October 23, 2000 – Oceania Flash/SPC)---All radio and television broadcasts ceased on New Caledonia's RFO (Réseau France Outremer, France's overseas network) stations after picketers from USTKE (Kanak and Exploited Workers Union) late Saturday night barred access to the premises hours before planned intensive, special coverage of the 8th Festival of Pacific Arts.

On Saturday evening, pickets were set up at the entrance of the stations, located on the heights of Nouméa, in Mount Coffyn.

Banners and painted signs on the walls said "No To Injustices."

RFO-New Caledonia Regional Director Alain le Garrec said the conflict hinged once again on demands from USTKE to promote some of their RFO-employed staff.

Earlier industrial actions by USTKE against RFO were also based on similar demands and had caused the stations to be paralyzed for as much as one week.

RFO had planned to provide extensive coverage of the 8th Festival of Pacific Arts, due to open on Monday and last eleven days.

Le Garrec denied any link between the current crisis and the forthcoming festival.

The action also coincides with the arrival in the French territory of RFO Chairman André-Michel Besse, its international relations director Wallès Kotra and of French Secretary of State for Overseas Administrations, Christian Paul, on Monday.

RFO management (including Besse, Kotra and Le Garrec) engaged in negotiations early Sunday, but no agreement was yet in sight later in the day.

On Friday, employer and employee groups and the local government signed a so-called "social pact" aimed at setting up conflict resolution procedures and a "preventive dialogue" in case of industrial action. USTKE, however, refused to be a signatory to the pact.

The main objective of the pact is to protect New Caledonia's economy from the damaging consequences of long strikes.

 

FRENCH OVERSEAS STATE SECRETARY TO ARRIVE IN NEW CALEDONIA

NOUMÉA, New Caledonia (October 22, 2000 – Oceania Flash/SPC)---French Secretary of State for Overseas Administrations, newly-appointed Christian Paul, is to arrive in the French territory early Monday, as part of a wider familiarization tour of the French Pacific territories, the French High Commission office said on Saturday.

Paul was appointed in late August and replaced Jean-Jack Queyranne, who was promoted to a higher position within the French government as part of a ministerial reshuffle by French Prime Minister Lionel Jospin.

Paul's three-day visit in New Caledonia (the first since his appointment) will coincide with the official opening of the 8th Festival of Pacific Arts on Monday.

The secretary is also to meet a wide range of officials from the French territory's political spectrum (including pro-independence FLNKS, Kanak Socialist National Liberation Front, and anti-independence RPCR, Rally for New Caledonia within the French Republic).

FLNKS and RPCR leaders, Roch Wamytan and Jacques Lafleur, signed in May 1998 the "Nouméa Accord" with French Prime Minister Lionel Jospin, granting wider autonomy to New Caledonia, a gradual transfer of powers from metropolitan France to local authorities and possible independence within "15 to 20 years" from that date.

Paul is also to tour New Caledonia's Southern, Northern and Loyalty Islands provinces.

In the Northern province, he is to meet the management of one of New Caledonia's major nickel companies, SMSP (Société Minière du Sud Pacifique).

SMSP, in a joint venture with Canadian nickel giant company Falconbridge, plans to build a new mining complex and processing plant, possibly by the end of 2002.

The French Cabinet member also plans to go to the gravesite in Tiendanite (east coast) of Jean-Marie Tjibaou to pay respect to the memory of the pro-independence Kanak leader, who was assassinated in 1989 by a pro-independence hard liner.

During his stay in New Caledonia, Paul is also to meet Australia’s culture minister Peter McGauran, who is in the French territory to attend the arts festival.

Later in the week, he is to visit France's two other Pacific territories, Wallis and Futuna and French Polynesia.

Rate this article: 
No votes yet

Add new comment