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French Caribbean

Sixth day of strikes in Guadeloupe against high cost of living

Article published on the 2009-01-26 Latest update 2009-01-26 12:10 TU

A meeting is set for Monday afternoon between protesters and the government of the French Caribbean island of Guadeloupe after six days of a general strike that has shut down the island’s tourism sector, closed schools and petrol stations. Strikers are demanding a reduction in the cost of living, including cuts in prices and taxes.

(Map: RFI)

(Map: RFI)

The strike was organised Tuesday by the Komité kont pwofitasyon (Anti-profiteering Committee) an umbrella group that brings together trade unions, political groups and several Creole cultural groups.

The Committee is demanding that the cost of primary goods be lowered and that a litre of petrol be reduced by 50 euro cents. They also want salaries to be raised by 200 euros and rents to be frozen.

In parallel, petrol station owners have shut down pumps, demanding that no new stations be built on the island.

Committee members agreed to a meeting organised by the prefecture Saturday with members of the regional government, parliamentarians and employers' organisations. It ended after four hours with no resolution.

“We spoke to each other,” said the prefect of Guadeloupe, Nicolas Desforges, after the meeting. “Everyone sat around the same table, and that is the news.”

Following the meeting the committee said it would not stop the strike, but would step it up.

Protesters have been blocking roads since Tuesday. Five hundred people blocked the Pointe-à-Pitre airport Thursday. The strike is taking its toll on the tourism industry just as the high season is starting. Cruise ship operators have started turning ships away from the island.

Thousands gathered in the streets of Pointe-à-Pitre Saturday – 8,000 according to the LKP, 25,000 according to the police

All weekend entertainment activities on the island, including music, theatre and sporting events were cancelled, including traditional Sunday carnivals. The Committee organised a “carnival of conscience” Sunday instead.