Guadeloupe strikers’ partial victory

In France, a young demonstrator expresses solidarity with Guadeloupe striking workersFrom 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.

But the Collective Against Exploitation (LKP) vowed to continue its six-week strike in the French Antilles islands of Guadeloupe and Martinique in pursuit of further concessions.

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.

And to other French “overseas departments” or colonies, like “French” Guiana and Réunion.

3 thoughts on “Guadeloupe strikers’ partial victory

  1. Mar 1, 9:29 AM EST

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    France’s overseas possessions:

    GUADELOUPE, population about 400,000, Guadeloupe is an archipelago of five islands in the Caribbean about 1,300 miles from Miami. Economy: mainly bananas, sugarcane, U.S. and French tourism. Guadeloupe endured 200 years of slavery under British and French monarchies until the practice was abolished in 1848. Various groups have sought autonomy, but few seek full independence. Most islanders are of black African or mixed African-European heritage, and much of the economy is run by white descendants of colonists.

    MARTINIQUE: This mountainous Caribbean island and former slave colony has an ethnic, social and economic profile similar to Guadeloupe’s. It was taken over by British forces during the French Revolution then returned to French hands.

    FRENCH GUIANA: On South America’s northeast coast, with about 221,000 people, the territory became French in 1667, and in the 19th century served as a penal colony for convicts deported from the French mainland. Neighboring Surinam and Guyana once belonged to the Dutch and British. Residents are a broad mix of African, European and Amerindian heritage. High unemployment has been a source of social unrest since the 1970s. French Guiana is the launch pad for French space shots.

    LA REUNION: This Indian Ocean island has 802,000 people. French settlers came in the 1600s and imported African slaves to grow coffee and sugar. Poverty and unemployment are higher than on the mainland and have prompted protests in the past.

    The following eight territories have varying degrees of autonomy:

    Pacific Ocean: New Caledonia, French Polynesia, Wallis and Futuna; Indian ocean: Mayotte; Caribbean: Saint-Barthelemy and Saint-Martin (island shared with Netherlands); North Atlantic Ocean, off Canada: Saint-Pierre and Miquelon; Terres Australes and French Antarctic.

    © 2009 The Associated Press.


  2. Martinique deal reached
    (Tuesday 03 March 2009)

    NEGOTIATORS announced on Tuesday that they have reached a deal to raise the wages of low-paid workers in Martinique.

    The accord to raise the workers’ pay by 200 euros (£179) per month has not been accepted by all trade unions and the four-week general strike is to continue for now.

    Bosses’ representative Patrick Lecurieux-Durival said that the agreement is “a first phase.”


  3. Pingback: Hurricane Maria disaster in Puerto Rico | Dear Kitty. Some blog

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