NEW CALEDONIA UNION, COMPANY REACH AGREEMENT AFTER FOUR-MONTH STRIKE

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NOUMÉA, New Caledonia (July 31, 2001 - Oceania Flash/SPC)---The Kanak and Exploited Workers Union (USTKE) and building company Jean Lefèbvre Pacifique (JLP) signed a memorandum of understanding last Friday ending a four-month strike which crippled the French territory’s building industry, the daily newspaper Les Nouvelles Calédoniennes reports.

The agreement came after JLP agreed to reinstate twelve UTSKE member workers who had been sacked.

JLP earlier alleged that the sacked workers had been engaging in acts of vandalism.

After the signing of the agreement, USTKE staged an impromptu victory parade featuring flags and the tooting of horns in the streets of Nouméa, in which hundreds of sympathizers took part.

According to the agreement, eight of the twelve USTKE members will be reinstated within JLP. The four others will be laterally transferred to Dumez, a sister company.

Other parts of the agreement call for a 50 percent increase in overtime payments.

"This is a beautiful victory for our union," USTKE president Gérard Jodar said.

The strike began locally at JLP, but then spread into a ten-day "roving" general strike, which affected retail outlets, public services, and state radio and television.

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