TAHITI GOVERNMENT STEPS INTO FUEL STRIKE

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PAPEETE, Tahiti (Tahitipresse, August 18) - The French Polynesia government has adopted a decree making it compulsory for all fuel suppliers to revise their collective bargaining agreements, among labor union demands in a six-day strike.

"The trade unions and employers were in a stalemated situation," French Polynesia President Oscar Temaru said early Monday evening in announcing the government’s action.

The strike, which began last Thursday, has yet to cause any major shortages in aviation or service station fuel and was expected to end Tuesday as a result of the government’s intervention.

Temaru defended the intervention, saying, "It was acting in the best interest of our country." He noted that the government has the power to apply Tahiti’s labor laws.

"I’m satisfied for our country, which will not be paralyzed, but also for the 30 workers who are guaranteed to have a stable employment even in the event of a change in company," Temaru said.

STDH, Mobil and SOMSTAT, three of the companies that import, distribute and stock the variety of hydrocarbons used in French Polynesia, have already signed an endorsement for the revised collective bargaining agreement with the union. But two other companies--Total and Shell--continued to refuse to sign, disputing the agreement’s Article 70, which calls for the hiring of office personnel by any new companies that set up business.

Cyril Le Gayic, secretary-general of the striking Confederation of Independent Trade Unions of French Polynesia (CSIP), said Monday that a draft agreement should be signed with the employers Tuesday afternoon.

For the union, Le Gayic said, the government intervention represents "a great step" even if "other demands remain to be settled."

August 19, 2004

Tahitipresse: www.tahitipresse.pf

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