A general strike has brought French Polynesia to a standstill. This major stoppage is taking place against the background of a rocketing cost of living and of the impact of the economic crisis, which has provoked the slashing of 9,000 jobs between 2008 and 2009 (out of a population of around a quarter of a million), a move again accelerated in 2010. An estimated 70,000 people in French Polynesia live below the poverty line.
Thousands of workers have engaged in the strike. Pickets have been set up at major points around the territory, including airports, hospitals and ports. The action, started at midnight, last Thursday, is organised by a “Collective for Peace” involving 11 of the territory’s biggest trade unions. They are calling, amongst other demands, for an end to job losses, better wages, secure pensions and unemployment insurances, and the reimbursement of the health care costs of those needing treatment because of exposure to nuclear weapons tests.