The situation worsens in Martinique. On the evening of the third day of the general strike, Wednesday November 24, the roadblocks on the main roads of the island multiplied.
The authorities of Martinique have invited the inter-union which launched the blockades on the island to discuss and plan to toughen up the tone. “We received an invitation to a meeting Thursday morning at 10 am [15 heures à Paris] with the prefect and the president of the executive council [de la collectivité territoriale de Martinique, Serge Letchimy] at the prefecture “, announced Eric Bellemare, general secretary of Force Ouvrière Martinique, Wednesday afternoon during a press point.
Violence on the island
The invitation was made when the members of the intersyndicale threatened “To make other arrangements” facing “Contempt displayed by the prefecture”, in the words of the union representative.
The leaders of the seventeen organizations that have launched a call for mobilization in Martinique since Monday had to turn to their respective bases to decide on future actions. But the unions have warned that they do not intend to lower their guard. “If until now the State has taken small steps, it is thanks to the balance of power”, observed Gabriel Jean-Marie, Secretary General of the General Confederation of Labor of Martinique (CGTM). Dams could therefore persist.
The prefecture of Martinique had already reported “Very violent events (…) in the agglomeration of Fort-de-France ” overnight from Tuesday to Wednesday. “Seven police officers and five gendarmes were slightly injured but they were not hospitalized”, according to the same source.
“Five people were arrested and are still in police custody for attempted homicide and aggravated violence against persons holding public authority, damage caused by fire, carrying and possession of weapons, participation in armed groups. They have all been already sentenced ”, she added.
No political solution in Guadeloupe
In Guadeloupe, the tension does not go down either. The prefecture, which extended the curfew until Saturday, announced that two gendarmes had “Been slightly injured” and that six people had been arrested during the night from Tuesday to Wednesday. The overseas minister, Sébastien Lecornu, assured that in Guadeloupe, “The penal response [était] in progress: almost a hundred arrests as I speak ”.
From Paris, government spokesperson Gabriel Attal denounced a “Recalcitrant minority” and “Violent” who takes “A whole island hostage”. “Public health cannot be exploited for political ends”, he insisted at the end of the Council of Ministers during which the president, Emmanuel Macron, “Reminded that our objective, our course, is to protect the Guadeloupeans”.
Several investigations were opened Wednesday in Guadeloupe on incidents on the sidelines of the gatherings, including the death of a young man, Monday evening, near the Sapotille dam.
To calm the situation, the Prime Minister, Jean Castex, notably announced on Monday the creation of a “Forum for dialogue” in order to “Convince and support individually, humanely”, professionals concerned by the vaccination obligation. The Minister of Health, Olivier Véran, also “Decided to set up a structure which will make it possible to find a solution for each of the 1,400 people suspended because they are not in compliance with this vaccination obligation”, explained Sébastien Lecornu.
The overseas minister will meet by videoconference on Thursday “All the elected officials of Guadeloupe” to address health measures but also the issue of youth “Which is found on the dams”. Solutions that did not convince.
Covid-19: general strike in French Polynesia against the vaccine obligation
French Polynesia, in turn, is experiencing a movement against compulsory vaccination. A largely majority inter-union began a general strike on Wednesday 24 November to protest against this measure and to demand the introduction of social measures.
Four local unions, out of the five in this overseas collectivity, are contesting the law on compulsory vaccination, voted in August by the Assembly of French Polynesia. All Polynesians who exercise a profession in contact with the public will have to be vaccinated on December 23, while less than 58% of the inhabitants are currently vaccinated, despite a strong wave due to the Delta variant in August and September.
The movement mobilizes little in the public service: less than 1% of employees in education and administration have gone on strike. It is followed more in companies that present internal claims.
Polynesian President Edouard Fritch said he was ready to reduce the fine incurred by the unvaccinated, but not to reverse this law: “My duty is to protect the population and therefore to maintain the vaccine obligation”, he said during a press briefing on Wednesday.
The unions also want a 4% increase in the minimum wage. The government has said it is ready to increase it by 2% and by one point more in a few months. The gross minimum wage is 1,281 euros in Polynesia, where the cost of living is higher than in mainland France.