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ORIGINAL FRENCH ARTICLE: Les Guadeloupéens redescendent dans la rue

by Rosa Moussaoui

The People of Guadeloupe demonstrate in the streets again.

Translated Saturday 17 October 2009, by Gene Zbikowski and reviewed by Derek Hanson

French overseas département. The demonstration called by the LKP on Saturday brought out 25,000 demonstrators in the streets of Pointe-à-Pitre. The trade unions on the island are demanding that the agreement signed on March 4, 2009, be respected.

The call for a mobilization issued by the Guadeloupe collective Liyannaj Kont Pwofitasyon (LKP) met with complete success on Saturday. About 25,000 people, according to the organizers, staged a peaceful, festive and joyful march in the streets of Pointe-à-Pitre to demand complete respect for the agreement on prices, wages, and jobs that was signed on March 4, 2009, following a 44-day general strike on the island. The strike notice for a renewable 24-hour strike that was filed by the inter-trade union organization demands, among other things, “the abandonment of the gasoline price increase” of six euro-cents decided by the government in mid-September, “the adoption of an emergency plan for jobs, hiring, and job training,” “an increase of government-guaranteed minimum social benefits and benefits for the handicapped,” “adherence to the agreements on price reductions” or again “the reclassification of all temporary hirings as permanent hirings in both the public and private sectors.”

“Today we passed the test, the people of Guadeloupe remain highly mobilized,” commented Elie Domota, the LKP spokesman, in a telephone interview conducted during the demonstration. For Domota, “the ball is now in the government’s court. It has to keep its word and respect the agreement that was signed.” The trade unionists, association members and political leaders who make up the LKP collective have not ruled out hardening their position after this first day of mobilization in order to enforce the agreement and to reopen negotiations on such burning, unanswered subjects as the youth unemployment rate, which exceeds 50% on the island. “This demonstration, which many thought we wouldn’t be able to pull off, won’t be a one-shot affair. We will start over, we will down tools again if necessary, until we win satisfaction of our demands,” warned Jean-Marie Nomertin, the general secretary of the CGT-G trade union.

Meeting of the committee to ensure application of the agreement.

On the nearby island of Martinique the mobilization did not meet with the same response. A thousand demonstrators gathered in Fort-de-France to answer the call issued by the Collectif du 5 février. According to the CGT-M trade union, “27,000 people, out of 70,000 who are entitled to it” still have not obtained the 200-euro wage increase won in March.

The government’s fear of new social unrest on Guadeloupe is apparent. When on Thursday the junior minister for overseas départements, Marie-Luce Penchard, finally answered a letter from the LKP, which demands that the committee to ensure application of the March agreement meet soon, she said she received the request “with interest.” “I am asking the prefect of Guadeloupe to hold a meeting of all the signatories, if the social situation allows /.../ to draw up an objective account of the commitments that each has undertaken, that is to say, the national government, local governments, and labor and management,” she wrote in her answer, going to announce that "she herself, on a coming visit, will preside over a work meeting /.../ to take decisions that will make it possible to attain all of the goals that have been established.”

All of her promises have been received with suspicion by the LKP, which is waiting for concrete decisions. “We are waiting for the prefect’s call,” insisted Elie Domota. “We’re not going to let them tell us tall tales. It has been six months since this agreement was supposed to come into force.” One person’s word against another? To shed light on the broken commitments, Domota proposes the organization of a live television debate with Marie-Luce Penchard.

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