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Air Cal refuses to negotiate after airport incident

MELBOURNE, Australia (Radio Australia, June 4, 2009) – The trade union representing New Caledonia's Kanak employees, the USTKE, has threatened an all-out strike unless the French territory's airline Air Cal agrees to return to the negotiating table.

The two sides have been locked in a dispute over a dismissed Kanak employee for several months.

Last Thursday, the union brought the capital Noumea's domestic airport to a standstill, preventing 3,000 passengers from flying.

Twenty-eight union representatives were arrested over the incident.

Since then, Air Cal has refused to continue talks with the union, accusing them of having boarded flights without permission and damaged some of the aircraft.

The USTKE has this afternoon issued an ultimatum, saying that unless talks resume by tomorrow midnight, all of it's 5-thousand members are prepared begin striking from Sunday.

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