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PAPE'ETE, French Polynesia (April 29, 2001 - Oceania Flash/SPC)---French Polynesia's Post and Telecom (OPT) unions started an "unlimited" strike movement in the post division Friday after preliminary negotiations with management for a pay rise and other benefits failed, the daily newspaper La Dépêche de Tahiti reports.

The strike was called by four unions.

A week ago Friday, the labor groups filed a strike notice based on a seven-point log of claims pertaining to the Post Office staff.

Although early negotiations seemed to have partially resolved some of the issues, union representation on the OPT Board remained totally unsolved.

Another point concerned the lack of promotions.

"This problem is affecting around 210 officers, who have not received any promotion for the past five years," A Ti'a I Mua union representative Jean-Pierre Taaroa said.

Other concerns include perks, specifically a 12,000 French Pacific Francs (about US$ 89.32) allowance for mobile phone bills and a 3,000 CFP monthly allowance for Internet access.

Negotiations ended on Thursday.

Commenting on the matter, OPT General Manager Geoffrey Salmon said the promotion of 210 staff would mean a cost of at least 70 million CFP (US$ 521,034), and another 150 million CFP (1,116,502) for the claimed perks.

"OPT staff already have comfortable social conditions. It might seem reasonable to seek to retain them, but one has to bear in mind that OPT's primary mission is to provide a public service at a minimal cost to the public".

The strike is having a major adverse impact on mail delivery

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