Gendarmes in riot gear guard the entrances to Hotel de La Collectivité on Tuesday morning (photo Robert Luckock)
Firemen put out a fire that started in an abandoned building on Rue Victor Maurasse. (Photo Robert Luckock)
MARIGOT—Demonstrators supporting the Caisse Territorial des Oeuvres (CTOS) strike barricaded all three entrances of Hotel de La Collectivité from 6:00am Tuesday morning in signs of escalating tension as the strike enters the thirteenth day with no settlements reached between unions and the Collectivité.
Gendarmes responded swiftly to remove barricades. For the first time armed Gendarmes in riot gear carrying shields were seen guarding the entrances to the building as demonstrators in jubilant mood stood outside singing, and clapping. It was unclear if any access was allowed into the building for any non-striking employees however, however many, including heads of department, were seen waiting outside the building.
Lt. Col Sébastien Manzoni said there had been no arrests for public disorder although there were some unconfirmed early reports of pushing and shoving between demonstrators and Gendarmes. Gendarmes since the beginning have been acting with restraint. Up until 9:00am there was no sign of Préfète Sylvie Feucher or President Daniel Gibbs on site.
A fire broke out in an abandoned building lower down from Hotel de la Collectivitè on Rue Victor Maurasse which was quickly put out by the Fire Brigade. A bystander said she had seen someone deliberately start the fire. It was not known if the fire had any connection to the strike to cause a diversion.
Despite President Gibb’s assurance that the Collectivité services are working diligently on the grievances presented by the UTC-UGTG union, the deadlock between the two sides continues and negotiations have been put on hold. On Saturday Gibbs informed the union that CTOS cannot undertake any new hiring due to the financial situation of CTOS and the Collectivité.
The principle cause of the strike is the termination of 16 CTOS employee contracts and 17 from the Collectivité however there are a total of 18 grievances that have been submitted by the union that they want rectified. The Collectivité is struggling to restore the financial situation of the CTOS that has been heavily in debt since 2017.
Said UTC-UGTG spokesperson Nicole White: “We are still not satisfied and that’s why we are standing firms and strong again today. Since we started this protest, we have not received any kind of result. All we are demanding is our rights and respect as workers.”