A possible strike that could have disrupted the Panama Canal expansion project’s schedule was averted on Wednesday when parties came to terms, the Panama Canal Authority (ACP) announced.
The dispute was over a pay increase for workers on the third lock project. The National Union of Workers of Construction and Similar Industries (SUNTRACS) and the contractor Grupo Unidos por el Canal (GUPC), settled on a deal that meant thousands of workers did not work off the job.
Terms of the deal varied according to job category and qualifications with a base increase of 5% and some workers getting more. The pay rise is backdated to July 1.
Under the expansion plan a third lane of traffic is being created in the Canal, hence the need for the third set of locks. Ultimately the expanded Canal, due for completion in April next year will be able to handle much bigger ships, carrying almost three times the freight as previously.
GUPC is a consortium comprising Spain’s Sacyr, Italy’s Impregilo, Belgium’s Jan de Nul and Panama’s CUSA.