The Panama Canal Authority (ACP) has rejected claims by the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) that the ACP is putting workers’ health and safety at risk in the new expanded Canal.
Earlier this week the ITF claimed that the ACP had failed to enhance the type and number of tugboats in its fleet as per a 2011 ACP study.
But the ACP flatly denies the claim, saying that between 2006 – when the huge Canal expansion project was approved – and 2014 it almost doubled the numbers in it tug fleet and furthermore, the vessels had significantly greater pulling power.
The ACP also strongly disputed ITF claims that it is trying to privatize the tugboat services in order to undermine the workers’ union.
According to the ACP it does use commercial, non-union tugboat companies but only to supplement its services at times of heavy traffic on the waterway. And that is a well-established practice, the ACP said.
The ITF has warned previously about worker safety standards at the Canal, especially in the buildup to June’s inauguration of the Canal’s huge new third locks.