Construction workers building the Panama Canal’s third set of locks have called off a threatened strike after winning a pay rise from the consortium building the locks.
SUNTRACS, the workers’ union, had been seeking an 8.9% pay hike, following the 11% increase they gained last year.
On 11 August, GUPC agreed to a base 5% pay rise for the workers, with more for some categories of employee. The consortium said it had made “an additional financial sacrifice to avoid a strike that would again affect the delivery schedule of the project”.
The pay dispute highlighted tensions between GUPC and the Panama Canal Authority (ACP).
ACP insisted throughout negotiations between GUPC and SUNTRACS that it was “in no way responsible for labour issues arising from any failure on the part of GUPC to meet demands by its subcontractors”.
But GUPC described ACP as “intransigent” and accused it of displaying a “negative attitude”.
After reaching a deal with the workers, GUPC said ACP had “ignored the negotiation, despite being the owner of the project and [having] a wide knowledge of the financial commitments GUPC has had to assume”.
Panama Canal construction is now 93% complete. The expanded waterway is expected to be fully open to commercial operations in the first half of 2016.