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French Caribbean

Guadeloupe negotiations inconclusive, petrol prices to be lowered Monday

Article published on the 2009-02-08 Latest update 2009-02-09 14:38 TU

A petrol queue in Gosier, outside Pointe-a-Pitre, 3 February 2009(Photo: AFP)

A petrol queue in Gosier, outside Pointe-a-Pitre, 3 February 2009
(Photo: AFP)

Negotiations to end a three-week strike in the French Caribbean island of Guadeloupe were suspended late in the night between Saturday and Sunday, with no conclusive decisions. The LKP collective, which represents unions, associations and political parties protesting the high cost of life on the island, wants a salary increase of 200 euros for all workers, as well as a cut in fuel prices. The local government announced a reduction in the price of fuel on Monday.

“We will lock ourselves in police headquarters tomorrow [Saturday] and we will not leave until an agreement is signed,” said Yves Jego, the junior minister in charge of France’s overseas departments, on Friday. He has been on the island for a week, to try to find an end to the general strike.

He and members of the local government were mediators in negotiations Saturday between employers and representatives of the LKP collective.

The LKP wants everyone’s salary to be raised by 200 euros a month. Employer representatives are reportedly offering to consider raises for those making a wage at or near minimum wage.

However, nothing had been decided by late Saturday, when the talks were suspended for the night.

Tens of thousands of people from all over the island gathered in the prefectural capital, Basse-Terre, ahead of the meeting.

Schools, government offices and petrol stations have been closed since 20 January. Supermarkets have been shut down by protesters, and port activities have been disrupted. Petrol station owners have shut down their pumps, demanding the price of fuel be lowered.

Jacques Gillot, a senator working as a mediator, announced Saturday night that the local government – which sets the price of fuel – will reduce the price of a litre of unleaded petrol by 3 cents Monday, and again Thursday. A litre, which currently costs 1.16 euros, will cost 1.07 euros by Thursday.

The LKP has demanded the price of a litre of petrol to be cut by 50 euro cents.

On neighbouring Martinique, also a French department, negotiations to end a similar strike that began Thursday broke off Saturday, and were to be reconvened Monday.

Press Review 4 February 2009

2009-02-04 09:59 TU