Panama City, Apr 28 (EFE).- Panama Canal unions and workers protested Thursday against reported plans of its administration to cut the work force of the route, through which 3.5 percent of the world’s maritime trade passes.
In front of the Panama Canal Authority (ACP) building in Panama City, union groups demanded that “a new collective contract be signed and that the work places in the Panama Canal be respected.”
“We have not closed four stagnant collective agreements and the closing of these is not in sight because there is no willingness or will” on the part of the Canal administration board, the secretary-general of the Panama Canal Marine Engineers Union, Luis Yau Chaw, told EFE.
Trade unionists already denounced this week the reported plans of the ACP to eliminate 1,437 jobs in the next three years and that 150 vacant positions will not be validated.
In response, the Panama Canal authority said it has launched a labor management plan to fill permanent vacancies, in which all temporary and permanent workers can participate, according to local media.
This plan is not intended to reduce the canal’s workforce, which is around 10,000 people, according to the ACP, cited by local media.
“The only thing we ask is that the administration of the Canal reconsider and take good administrative measures,” said Yau Chaw.
“It is not only raising more to deliver to the treasury, but to maintain a labor force satisfied with the work, that the number of workers we need to operate is maintained, and the workforce is not reduced.”
Fiscal year 2021 was “exceptional” for the canal, with a record 516.7 million tons transited, 8.7 percent more than the previous year and 10 percent above 2019, said canal administrator Ricaurte Vásquez in October. He predicted a more moderate growth for 2022. EFE