Consortium says Panama Canal strike lifted

By Chris Sleight12 July 2010

A spokesman for the GUPC consortium handling the main contract for the expansion of the Panama Canal has told local media that last week's strike by workers has been lifted.

GUPC head of human resources, Edgar Ochomovo told local reporters that the dispute over pay and conditions had been resolved thanks to government mediation and direct negotiations with workers. Wages are being kept at the US$ 2.90 per hour minimum originally agreed in a collective bargaining agreement, but the two sides are understood to have settled on better working conditions.

The successful round of talks appears to have taken place without the participation of the Sindicato Único Nacional de Trabajadores de la Industria de la Construcción y Similares (SUNTRACS) construction union, which met twice with the consortium last week, but failed to settle on a deal. SUNTRACS secretary general Genaro Lopez was quoted in local media as saying he was not aware that the strike had been lifted.

The GUPC consortium comprises Italy's Impregilo, Spain's Sacyr, Belgian dredging specialist Jan de Nul and Panamanian contractor Constructora Urbana. The US$ 3.32 billion contract to construct two new flights of locks - one on the Atlantic side and one on the Pacific - was awarded last July by the Panama Canal Authority (ACP).

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