OVER 300 PROTEST NEW CALEDONIA FUEL PRICE INCREASE

NOUMÉA, New Caledonia (November 17, 2000 – Oceania Flash/SPC)---Over 300 protesters from three unions in New Caledonia staged a sit-in in front of the local government headquarters Thursday to protest a recent increase in fuel prices, RFO reports.

The protest was called by SOENC-Mines, STD and SAM-NC representatives who said they also were protesting a newly introduced goods and services tax of 4 percent.

"Once again, it is the pockets of the workers and least favored that are being hit for money that will benefit the rich and the monopolies," SOENC-Mines Secretary General Sylvain Néa said.

The three unions are also demanding the immediate implementation of a planned increase (by 2003) of the minimum wage to approximately US$ 1,000 a month, and the introduction of additional tax on the higher income brackets.

New Caledonia's Vice President, Léopold Jorédié, met with a union delegation and told them their claims were not acceptable.

"But you can make proposals," he said.

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