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LKP unionists step up pressure on reluctant employers

Video by FRANCE 24 , Oliver FARRY , FRANCE 2

Text by FRANCE 24 (with wires)

Latest update : 2009-03-02

LKP unionists on the French Caribbean island of Guadeloupe said they would go to businesses to demand they sign an agreement to raise salaries. Spokesman Elie Domota said unions could go on striking for "40 days more".

Rumours that a crippling 42-day-long strike in the French Caribbean island of Guadeloupe would finally end died over the weekend, leaving the French government and the strike's organisers locked in a new trial of strength Monday over demands for a wage increase.

The Collective Against Exploitation, an umbrella organization for workers’ unionsknown by its Creole abbreviation LKP, reached a deal with some local employers for a 200-euro monthly wage increase Thursday evening. But other employers’ groups — including MEDEF, France’s biggest bosses’ group — have so far refused to sign it.

LKP took a harsher tone Sunday night, warning that it would step up pressure on employers to sign the agreement.

“Not only are we going to ask for an extension of the agreement,” Elie Domota, the LKP spokesman said Sunday in front of 3,000 supporters, “but we are going to go from factory to factory to get it signed.”


A new march "in running shoes"

The LKP was initially hoping that the deal, which right now only applies to small and medium-size companies, could be extended to all companies by decision of the French labour ministry.

But the MEDEF’s inflexibility on the issue prompted Domota to call his followers to gather for a new march “in running shoes” Monday outside Guadeloupe’s main city of Pointe-à-Pitre.

"About 46,000 employees are going to earn an extra 100 euros at least from the state, but we have to go get the remaining 100," Domota said.


Minister urges MEDEF to behave responsively

Meanwhile in Paris, Interior Minister Michèle Alliot-Marie urged the MEDEF Sunday to “behave responsibly”.

According to Willy Angele, the head of the MEDEF in Guadeloupe, the island’s economy could badly suffer from the strike.

“The liquidation of a number of small companies could mean 10,000 to 14,000 job losses,” Angele told the French daily Le Parisien-Aujourd’hui en France. “The unemployment rate could jump from 23% to 30%.”

Shops were slowly reopening across Guadeloupe, and gas stations were all back in business on Monday.

The LKP said it would decide Monday afternoon on the strike continuation, depending on whether the French government representative on the island agrees to hand in an official document committing to all the agreed points.

Date created : 2009-03-02

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