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AIR CALEDONIE WON’T MEET EMPLOYEE DEMANDS Strike could ‘paralyze’ New Caledonia

MELBOURNE, Australia (Radio Australia, June 7, 2009) – The president of Air Caledonie says the airline has no intention of paying members of the union representing its Kanak employees for strike days.

A mass strike involving all of the union's 3,000 members has been called from Monday and threatens to paralyse the French Pacific territory.

Union leaders say they will continue the work stoppage across all sectors until Air Caledonie agrees to return to the negotiating table and pay its workers for the strike days.

But Nidoish Naisseline says the airline is struggling with a funding shortfall of nore than $US4.5 million and cannot afford to meet the union's demands.

Since the USTKE union began its strikes in protest at the dismissal of a Kanak employee last March, the airline has lost a further $650,000.

The territory's newly elected government, headed by Philippe Gomes, is due to discuss the dispute this week.

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