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Panama Canal workers go on strike after wage increase demands are rejected

It is unclear how indefinite work stoppage will affect the expansion project

Panama City -
Workers at the Panama Canal hold a protest in favor of wage hikes.
Workers at the Panama Canal hold a protest in favor of wage hikes.EFE

Workers at the Panama Canal went on an indefinite strike on Wednesday after their demands for a salary increase were rejected by the state-run authority that operates the world’s busiest waterway.

More than 70,000 members of the Suntracs employees union showed up for work in a symbolic gesture to report to their supervisors and later walk off their jobs, said Suntracs secretary general Saul Méndez.

The strike comes after the Spanish-led consortium working on expanding the canal and the Panama Canal Authority (PAC) reached an agreement in late February over $1.6 billion in cost overruns that had stopped work for several months and threatened to delay the project for years.

Neither Sacyr – the Spanish construction firm at the head of the consortium – nor PAC indicated on Wednesday whether the strike will alter next year’s deadline to complete the expansion work. Not all employees working on the project are members of Suntracs, officials said.

Panamanian Labor Minister Reynaldo Medina told reporters that Sinatracs officials got up from the negotiating table at midnight Tuesday after the government rejected their demands for a minimum 20 percent annual wage increase for the next four years.


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