Panama Canal bosses criticised for punishing tugboat captains

The International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) has thrown its weight behind the union representing tugboat captains who have been disciplined by the Panama Canal Authority (ACP).

ACP began the process of sanctioning tugboat captains last week after some of them refused to transit some ships through the Canal’s new Panamax locks.

Union of Tugboat Captains and Deck Officers of the Panama Canal (UCOC) representatives defended the captains’ actions saying they were drawing attention to safety concerns arising from shortages of equipment and personnel caused by cost-cutting.

Now the ITF has weighed in, saying the captains’ concerns are reasonable because crew numbers were reduced on the tugboats and the captains were being required to do excessive overtime.

The London-based ITF has previously raised concerns about safety in relation to the new locks of the expanded Canal. In 2016 it said the number of tugboats there was inadequate and criticised the privatization of emergency medical services.

Donal Scully

With 28 years experience writing and editing for newspapers in the UK and Hong Kong, Donal is now based in California from where he covers the Americas for Splash as well as ensuring the site is loaded through the Western Hemisphere timezone.
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