Guadeloupe: Workers’ general strike victory

A 44-DAY general strike by trade unions on the French Caribbean island of Guadeloupe has resulted in a victory for the workers.

A deal reached between the leaders of the unions’ umbrella organisation the LKP and the French government met the strikers’ demands for a €200 increase in the monthly salaries of the lowest paid and a pegging back of prices of basic foodstuffs.

Prices on Guadeloupe are generally higher than in France, while wages are lower. The unemployment rate is greater than 20% on the island.

The leader of the LKP, Elie Domota, has warned that the unions’ action is only suspended and that any attempt to renege on the deal would see a resumption of the strike.

The deal “is a first step”, said Domota. Adding: “In the coming months and weeks there will be many other struggles on training, employment… we remain mobilised.”

The general strike, which also affected the nearby island of Martinique, paralysed the economy, closed schools and businesses, and forced thousands of tourists to cancel their vacations.

450 riot police were sent from France, who attacked the daily demonstrations. A union leader was killed at a roadblock. Police have arrested dozens of protesters since the strike began in late January.

France’s president Nicolas Sarkozy feared that the strike would spread into France itself.