Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Panama Canal Workers End Strike

By Mark Edward Nero

Construction workers in Panama have ended a strike that had shut down work on the expansion of the Panama Canal for more than two weeks.

On May 8, Grupo Unidos por el Canal, the consortium expanding the waterway, said in a statement that work had partially resumed on the project and was expected to gradually return in the coming days.

About 700 construction workers walked off the job April 24 demanding higher wages and better working conditions. The strike not only put a halt to a project to build a third set of locks for the Panama Canal, but hundreds of other projects around the world run by the consortium.

The strike came just six days after the president of Panama and other officials inaugurated the $3.1 billion latest phase of the canal expansion project, which includes construction of a new ship lock system complex and new waterway bridge. The current lock system lifts ships of up to 85 feet to the main elevation of the Panama Canal and down again. The new locks could accommodate larger ships.

The consortium has not said whether the strike is expected to affect the targeted December 2015 completion date for the canal expansion. The finish date for the $5.25 billion has already been pushed back multiple times from the original time frame of October 2014.