Workers ditch strike plans at Panama Canal

GMT 03:09 2015 Wednesday ,12 August

Arab Today, arab today Workers ditch strike plans at Panama Canal

Workers ditch strike plans
Panama City - XINHUA

Labor leaders called off a planned strike of the construction on the Panama Canal, which is nearing completion of an ambitious expansion project.

Workers, who sought higher salaries, said they would continue on the job after reaching an agreement which will lead to a raise.

"There is an agreement, so we're ending our call to go out on strike," Saul Mendez, secretary general of Suntracs, the construction workers' union, told AFP on Tuesday.

Work on the ambitious expansion of the Panama Canal risked grinding to a halt again because of the labor dispute.

Suntracs had vowed to shut down work on the project to triple the canal's capacity if wage increases are were not agreed for the 6,000 workers on the project by Wednesday.

The raises would cost $6 million to $7 million, according to the consortium carrying out the project, according to the GUPC.

Originally scheduled for completion last year, the canal project is now only expected to be ready in April 2016.

The project has overrun its initial $5.25-billion budget, leading to disputes between GUPC and the Panama Canal Authority that, together with previous strikes by disgruntled workers, put the upgrade badly behind schedule.

GUPC comprises Spain's Sacyr, Italy's Salini Impregilio, Belgium's Jan de Nul and Panama's Constructora Urbana.

The Panama Canal handles five percent of global shipping, but needs to upgrade its century-old infrastructure in the face of rival bids for market share from Egypt's Suez Canal and a new Nicaraguan canal being planned by a Chinese company.

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