A 44-day general strike in the French Caribbean department of Guadeloupe ended with an agreement signed March 4 by representatives of the French government and the Collective Against Extreme Exploitation (LKP), which led the strike. In the Jacques Binot Accord—named for a union leader killed the night of Feb. 17—the LKP won its basic demand for a raise of 200 euros a month (now about $253) for low-wage workers. The agreement's 165 articles also cover a wide range of economic demands: reductions in charges for school meals, in bank rates, in the price of water and auto fuel; lower real estate taxes; a 20% reduction in bus fares between towns; a rent freeze; and a freeze on the price of a loaf of bread.
The MEDEF—the Movement of Businesses of France, the most powerful French business association—refused to sign the accord. It is not clear how many workers local MEDEF members employ; estimates range as high as 30,000-40,000. But most Guadeloupeans seemed to consider the agreement a big win. Thousands of strike supporters celebrated with a demonstration in Pointe-à-Pitre, the departmental capital, on March 7; several hundred supporters also demonstrated in Paris. "The economy is on its knees," an activist said in Pointe-à-Pitre when the accord was signed on March 4, "but Guadeloupe will never be the way it was before."
On March 7 the local government announced it was starting an investigation of LKP spokesperson Elie Domota, secretary general of the General Union of Guadeloupe Workers (UGTG), for "provocation to discrimination, hate and violence against persons or categories of persons because of their origin." The investigation refers to two remarks Domota made during a television appearance on Télé Guadeloupe on March 5: "Either [the employers] will apply the accord, or they'll leave Guadeloupe" and "We won't let a band of békés reestablish slavery." Béké is a Creole term for the descendants of white slave owners.
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