From British daily The Morning Star:
Guadeloupe strikers hail partial victory
(Friday 27 February 2009)
TRADE unions in the French Caribbean colony of Guadeloupe celebrated partial victory in their fight for higher wages and lower prices on Friday.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy said in Paris on Friday that “at last things are moving along” and that he was “quite hopeful” that a solution to end the strikes would be reached soon.
He told reporters that it was “absolutely abnormal” that prices were much higher in the Antilles than in mainland France and blamed it on “competition problems, the problem of energy, endogenous economic development, injustice.”
In Guadeloupe, leaders of the LKP paused for handshakes and photos with small business owners after signing the deal that raises some workers’ wages by 200 euros (£178) a month just before midnight on Thursday.
But large business owners have refused to return to the negotiating table, accusing the unions of creating a “climate of intimidation and violence.”
LKP leader Elie Domota said that the negotiations and the strike were not over.
“We have a meeting tomorrow afternoon with the prefect to continue the negotiations,” he said.
The strike has shut stores across the island, chased away tourists and occasionally erupted into clashes between protesters and police.
The new labour agreement was named the Jacques Bino Accord in honour of a union member who was killed while leaving a strike meeting on February 17.
From March 1, small employers will provide up to half the 200 euros wage increase for workers making up to 1,849 euros (£1,649) a month, with the rest paid for by the French and local government.
Workers making up to 2,113 euros (£1884) will receive at least a 6 per cent raise.
Protests over high prices, low pay and allegations of neglect by officials in Paris have also spread to neighbouring Martinique.