BASSE-TERRE, Guadeloupe – THOUSANDS of protesters marched yesterday (Feb. 9) in Guadeloupe and Martinique, adding to the unrest experienced in both countries as a result of industrial action.
According to BBC Caribbean, French government ministers are due to meet today (Feb. 10) to address the escalating crisis.
More than 10 000 people demonstrated in Guadeloupe, forcing local shops and businesses to close. The ongoing strike by petrol workers has precipitated the closure of petrol stations, and port activity has also been disrupted.
Insult was added to injury with the weekend departure of the French Minister with responsibility for the overseas territories, Yves Jego, who had promised upon his arrival in Guadeloupe that he would remain until a solution to the strike had been found.
Spokesperson for the striking organisations, Elie Domota described Jego’s return as “contemptible” while General Council Senator Jacques Gillot stated his revulsion at the abrupt departure.
During his time in Guadeloupe, Jego was involved in several meetings and negotiation sessions in an attempt to put an end to the crisis. He negotiated a preliminary agreement between employers and striking workers for a wage increase, which is to be signed into effect at an undisclosed date.
The French Minister said he had also negotiated 132 measures that would change the life of the people of the country. He concluded that his work within the territory had been done and that “a last stumbling block did not relate to the state, as it was a conflict between workers and employees”.
The dispute has spread to Martinique, where thousands of workers took to the streets to demand government action to address the high cost of living.
According to a statement released by his office, Jego is “following, day-by-day, the development of the situation in Martinique and will make all the contacts necessary to bring its inhabitants the same resolution that was achieved in Guadeloupe”.