Striking employees resume work on Panama Canal

GMT 19:06 2014 Friday ,25 July

Arab Today, arab today Striking employees resume work on Panama Canal

Panama Canal
Panama City - AFP

Around 1,000 striking workers resumed building an expansion to the Panama Canal on Friday, at least for two days, pending a final agreement over wage increases, a labor leader said.
Workers took up their tools "because we have reached a preliminary agreement with the company," union chief Abelardo Herrera told AFP.
"On Saturday we restart negotiations on the salary issue, and if there's no agreement tomorrow, we will resume the work suspension Monday," he warned, dubbing the resumption a "goodwill gesture."
The strike has affected labor on a three-kilometer (two-mile) portion of the canal and a 2.8-kilometer dam, all part of a massive project to widen the waterway.
Workers are demanding an 11 percent wage hike, the reinstatement of colleagues dismissed for setting forth demands and a halt to contact with several foreign foremen who they said are verbally abusive.
According to Herrera, the preliminary agreement includes reinstatement of the dismissed employees and puts the workers out of direct contact with the foremen.
However, negotiations on the wage increase are still ongoing.
Stakes are high for the canal expansion project, with five percent of the world's maritime trade already passing through the canal.
The expanded waterway will be able to process 12,000 container ships in its first year of use, triple the current capacity.
The vast construction project was to have been completed this year, but delays and cost overruns have pushed back the schedule to early 2016.


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