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Report of accord to end Martinique strike

Report of accord to end Martinique strike

Union leaders said Wednesday they are ending a monthlong strike on the French Caribbean island of Martinique after reaching agreement with employers on a pay raise.
Michael Monrose, president of the "February 5 Collective", said blockades will be lifted and businesses and schools should reopen within 48 hours.
The agreement reached around 2 a.m. Wednesday after 12 hours of negotiations calls for a 200 euro ($250) monthly salary increase for 47,000 low-wage earners. Those who make more will see a smaller increase. The agreement is applicable from March 1 and workers will receive retroactive pay.
The pact matches an agreement that ended a 44-day strike on the sister French island of Guadeloupe on March 4.
Martinique's employers welcomed the deal with relief but also a hint of bitterness.
"We will have to manage all the collateral damage of 34 days of conflict," said Alexandre Richol, president of the General Confederation of Small and Mid-size Businesses.
As protesters began melting away on Wednesday, businesses began to cautiously reopen _ though many owners left their cars parked far away to avoid encountering strikers. Customers waited patiently in long lines to buy leftover products.
Trucks and tractors removed tires and wooden blockades to clear the entrances of several commercial zones and the first of 7,600 immobilized shipping containers began to move as the port also reopened.
A local chamber of commerce estimated that roughly 10 million euros ($13 million) was lost when food perished inside 600 of those containers.
Schools expected to reopen in upcoming days, and classes will be held over the weekend to make up for lost time.
Union leaders had originally demanded a 250-euro ($316) increase, and the strike had turned violent in recent days as some protesters attacked business people and set cars and garbage bins on fire, while several police officers were slightly injured by gunfire as they responded with tear gas.
Business owners have already agreed to lower prices on roughly 400 basic necessities by 20 percent one month after stores reopen.
In the nearby island of Guadeloupe, the LKP collective warned it would resume the strike if government officials and business owners go back on promises to raise pay and lower gas prices. Negotiations over lower food prices and other demands are still ongoing.
The strikes have spread to the French Indian Ocean island of Reunion, where one police officer was injured by gunfire on Tuesday during an otherwise peaceful protest to demand lower prices and higher salaries.


Updated : 2021-03-08 21:24 GMT+08:00