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article imageStores looted, cars burned in Martinique

By Bob Ewing     Feb 26, 2009 in World
Cars were set on fire and stores looted while some 20 people were detained in connection with these actions on the French Caribbean island of Martinique.
Over the past three weeks, the French Caribbean island of Martinique has experienced a series of labour protests. Yesterday, cars were set on fire and stores looted while some 20 people were detained in connection with these actions.
The violence took place in the major city Fort-de-France and to date, there are no figures available as to the number of stores or cars damaged, but the looting and burning did not appear to be widespread.
The nearby French island of Guadeloupe has seen weeks of strikes on Guadeloupe over wages and high living costs that had degenerated into rioting last week in which one labor activist died. The turmoil on Martinique is less severe.
However, Guadeloupe's strikes and labor protests spread to Martinique. Talks are expected to resume Thursday between employers and labor unions on ending a 20-day strike that has halted businesses on the island.
On Monday, a group of protesters left the talks after business owners did not offer a concrete counter proposal to demands for a monthly pay increase of € 354 ($452), strike organizer Michael Monrose said.
Monday night, the government representatives left stating they were not prepared to agree to a € 200 ($250) monthly raise for those making € 900 ($1,130) a month. They are waiting for new instructions from Paris.
Last week, French President Nicolas Sarkozy announced a € 580 million ($730 million) financial package to help development in France's overseas regions, where prices are often much higher than on the mainland but salaries are not.
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