MARIGOT–A critical meeting between Collectivité officials and a Union des Travailleurs de la Collectivité and Union General des Travailleurs de Guadeloupe (UTC-UGTG) delegation held Tuesday morning to continue negotiations to bring an end to the 1½-month-old conflict was called off after a union delegate clashed with Gendarmes after attempting to enter restricted office areas of the President’s cabinet on the first floor of Hotel de la Collectivité.
It was another sign of a deteriorating situation following clashes between strikers and Gendarmes at the Central Kitchen on Monday morning and the second time a meeting was cancelled after the union objected to the presence of Vice-President Annick Pétrus at the negotiating table last week. The disruption meant that none of the 21 points on the union’s list of grievances were discussed.
The meeting was supposed to start at 9:00am, but the union delegation turned up at 9:30am. Gendarmes and Police Territorial were on hand for security and to keep order. The union delegation and some of the strikers were permitted in the meeting room, but not the general public. There was some discussion about this, which delayed proceedings with the union requesting a bigger room. Some 30 seats were made available in the conference room on the first floor.
According to sources close to the meeting, trouble started when Guadeloupe Union General Secretary Nestorius Favel attempted to enter the private restricted areas of the President’s cabinet offices, reportedly looking for the restroom, but was blocked by Gendarmes. That provoked a tirade of verbal abuse over how Gendarmes had treated the strikers on Monday morning.
President Gibbs and Vice-President Valérie Damaseau eventually managed to calm the situation down. It was agreed then that the meeting would reconvene this coming Thursday, March 21.
The unlimited strike by Caisse Territorial des Oeuvres Scolaires (CTOS) workers began on January 30, prompted chiefly by the termination of 16 employee contracts due to CTOS’ financial situation.