TAHITI STRIKERS BLOCKADE FUEL DEPOT

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PAPEETE, Tahiti (Tahitipresse, Oct. 11) – A strike blockade that has prevented the distribution of fuel and butane gas to Tahiti’s service stations has not created the usual panic buying by consumers even though the stations are out of butane gas.

The strike on behalf of 14 employees of Polygaz continued for its second straight day today but service stations reported still having enough supplies of gasoline and diesel fuel.

The strikers set up a blockade early Monday, preventing fuel trucks to leave or enter storage areas in the Port of Papeete’s Motu Uta.

Negotiations are continuing between the striking union and Polygaz. The union claims Polygaz management officials want to switch from butane gas over to the other fuels, creating a problem in keeping the present 14 employees.

The strike has halted the deliveries of gasoline and diesel fuel to all Mobile and Total service stations and the delivery of jet fuel to the airport. However, Shell stations are not affected.

"Customers think the blockade by Polygaz (employees) of the access to fuel storage areas is a rumor," according to one service station operator in Tahiti’s west coast Commune of Punaauia. "They don’t seem to be worrying," he said of his customers.

The calm reaction was a stark contrast to recent blockades involving strikes by the Temaru government’s special intervention group employees. Service stations around the island ran out of gasoline, diesel fuel and butane gas within a few hours. The "bottled" gas is used to heat water and operate ovens and stoves in homes and apartments.

"We’re all surprised by the calm that reigns at the moment," said a service station operator in Tahiti’s most populated Commune of Faa’a, located next to the capital of Papeete. She theorized that although people are "fed up" with this sort of situation, they have learned to take things more in stride.

October 13, 2005

Tahitipresse: http://www.tahitipresse.pf/index.cfm?lang=2

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