NEW CALEDONIA STRIKERS STOP NEWSPAPER

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By Patrick Antoine Decloitre

SUVA, Fiji (Oceania Flash, Nov. 7) – The recently formed Confederation of New Caledonia’s Workers Union (CSTNC), which has been engaged in a roving strike movement for the past month and a half, has prevented the French Pacific territory's only daily newspaper Les Nouvelles Calédoniennes to be published.

"There was no motive for the blockade; all they said was that hey were unhappy about the coverage of their strike movement from our newspaper", Les Nouvelles Calédoniennes editor in chief Philippe Minard told Oceania Flash.

Les Nouvelles Calédoniennes belongs to French media Hersant group, which controls most of the French regional daily print news media in France and its overseas countries and territories.

A group of strikers and CSTNC members managed to prevent the newspaper, on Monday night, to be printed at its press in the industrial suburb of the capital Nouméa.

Minard however expressed confidence that the newspaper would go back to press as early as Tuesday evening.

"This happened once, yesterday, this will not happen twice", he said.

Last month, CSTNC also targeted French radio and television broadcaster RFO, when some of its members assaulted a cameraman and proceeded to confiscated his equipment.

They said at the time that they did not allow their road-blocking actions to be filmed any longer.

Two years ago, another cameraman was assaulted by members of another union, USTKE (Kanak and Exploited Workers Union) during yet another strike targeting RFO.

Since the CSTNC "unlimited general" strike began in September (originally to protest against the high cost of living and a diverse log of claims including opposition to Filipino workers being hired to work on a world-class nickel mining plant construction project), support for the movement has gradually waned.

CSTNC leader Sylvain Néa later added to his claims the resignation of the local government.

Several attempts to negotiate between union representatives and the government have so far failed.

Another round of talks was still scheduled for Tuesday afternoon, this time with representatives of the local parliament, the Congress.

The CSTNC strike, which has on occasions targeted French nickel mining company Société Le Nickel (SLN), has also prompted at least four French riot police interventions to break up blockades on public access roads.

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