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French Caribbean

Guadeloupe and Martinique strikes continue as Prime Minister rejects state-funded pay increases

Article published on the 2009-02-11 Latest update 2009-02-11 14:23 TU

Prime Minsiter Francois Fillon (L) and Yves Jégo (R) in Paris, 10 February 2009(Photo: Reuters)

Prime Minsiter Francois Fillon (L) and Yves Jégo (R) in Paris, 10 February 2009
(Photo: Reuters)

The French West Indies islands of Guadeloupe and Martinique continued their general strikes against the high cost of living on Wednesday. Negotiations in Guadeloupe between strikers and employers are set to resume after Prime Minister Francois Fillon said the state would not fund pay raises. The French junior minister in charge of France’s overseas departments, Yves Jégo, arrived in Guadeloupe Tuesday night with two mediators to continue the negotiations.

Jégo echoed Fillon’s words, saying the French state would not finance the pay raises demanded by the protesters.

Fillon on Tuesday said that salary hikes should be negotiated between employers and employees, declaring that it is not the state’s job to intervene. Unions representing the energy and water sectors as well as the port responded by vowing to continue their 22-day strike.

Jégo, who had been in Guadeloupe until Sunday, when Fillon called him back to mainland France, returned Tuesday night with the same message, though he did promise state aid for other projects.

"As of this year, the state will make almost 190 million euros available to put all the negotiated points in place,” he said Tuesday night, referring to agreements made before he left on Sunday.

Unions have vowed to continue the work stoppage, saying that Fillon is worried that the strikes will spread to other French territories.

Workers in neighbouring Martinique have been on strike since last Thursday.

French unions are preparing a summit in Paris with President Nicolas Sarkozy on 18 February, before a nationwide day of action set for the next day.