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Strike delaying major Panama infra projects

Bnamericas Published: Friday, May 18, 2018
Strike delaying major Panama infra projects

A strike that Panama's construction workers union Suntracs has been staging since April 18 is delaying the completion of some major infrastructure projects.

As of Friday morning, negotiations between workers and Panama's construction chamber (Capac) were ongoing, although union representatives were optimistic that an agreement would be reached soon, local daily La Estrella de Panamá reported.

The union is demanding a 9% annual wage hike, while Capac is offering only 3%.

IMPACT ON PROJECTS

The strike has reportedly affected projects such as the expansion of Tocumen international airport – the main gateway into Panama City – and construction of a second metro line for the capital, which is currently 75% complete and is expected to be partially operating by January.

Works have also been halted on upgrading the 7.5km Transístmica highway, which runs from San Isidro metro station to El Ingenio in Panama City. With the work just 15% complete, the transport ministry (MOP) sent teams to perform temporary maintenance on some of the most critical sections to prevent the heavy rains experienced in Panama City in recent days causing further damage.

Meanwhile, President Juan Carlos Varela said at the end of an official visit to Israel on Thursday that he is hoping for a prompt solution to the strike and threatened to implement more severe measures to ensure works resume.

The government is considering a variety of proposals to make up for the delays and ensure projects are completed in accordance with contracts. One option reportedly involves a third work shift at the sites of public projects, so construction continues 24 hours a day.

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