Employers and the union have signed a collective agreement for 2014-2017 establishing a tiered wage increase starting with 27 cents in the first year.
Representatives of the Union of Construction Workers and Similar Entities (SUNTRACS) and the Panamanian Chamber of Construction (CAPAC) signed the collective agreement, effective until 2017, that includes a salary adjustment of 98 cents an hour, to be implemented in stages over four years, representing 35.87 %, or 9% per annum.
The Canal Authority has announced that the consortium in charge of the construction of the work will submit a claim for additional costs related to the strike in the sector.
14 days after a strike began in the construction sector, the Panama Canal Authority (ACP) announced that Grupo Unidos por el Canal intends to formally submit a new claim, for an as yet unknown amount, for delays caused by the strike.
The positions held by trade unionists and employers are polls apart, and the more than 400 works have been paralyzed, including the expansion of the Canal.
A staged adjustment of 80% in the wages of workers over the next four years, food provided at lunch time, a Christmas bonus and specific wages for large projects, are the demands put forward for which there is still no agreement.
Panamanians will suffer from expensive housing and a contraction of the economy if companies accept the demands imposed by the union, which remains on strike.
Although both parties resumed talks on the morning of Friday April 25, the possibility of reaching an agreement still seems distant, as the union is holding to its demand to increase wages by 107% over the four years of the new collective agreement.
The decision by employers not to give in to the exorbitant wage demands made by the union has led to the paralysis of construction works, including that of the Panama Canal.
Following the order from the leadership of the union, workers have halted construction on several real estate projects in the Panamanian capital, in protest against the refusal of the Chamber of Construction to concede to their demands for wage increases.
Although companies are willing to make adjustments from 2% to 4% in the three years that the new Collective Bargaining Agreement is in effect, the union wants more.
On April 23, work in the sector could be halted if companies and the union can not reach an agreement that satisfies the workers' union.
Erasmo Cerrud, deputy secretary of the National Trade Union of Workers in the Construction Industry and Allied Partmers (Suntracs) and chief negotiator for the workers, told Prensa.com "that the construction industry has investments worth 15 billion dollars, and wages earned by workers do not reflect the increase in the cost of living. "
Business Chamber and Workers Union have agreed to continue negotiations which has postponed the threat of a general strike for 20 days.
It is estimated that losses to the Panamaconstruction sector could be more than $9 million a day if the general workers strike takes place. The workers are demanding, among other things, that a single wage scale be established at a national level.
A strike has been announced as part of the negotiation of a collective agreement, bringing risk to one of the most dynamic sectors of the Panamanian economy.
In the absence of an agreement between the Panamanian Chamber of Construction (CAPAC) and the Trade Union of Construction Workers and Similar (Suntracs) to sign the collective agreement, the union has announced strikes in the sector.
After weeks of conflict, the parties have ended talks and left resolution of the problem in the hands of the Ministry.
The Trade Union of Construction Workers and Similar (Suntracs) and the Panamanian Chamber of Construction (CAPAC) confirmed that the Ministry of Labor and Workforce Development (Mitradel) will have to mediate between the two parties, once the round of negotiations has been suspended. Suntracs took the decision to submit the list of demands to the Mitradel despite the fact that there was an agreement to continue the negotiation cycle.
Demands are for a reduction of hours to 40 per week but with pay for 45 hours and companies to take on transportation and food costs.
Construction workers are demanding a reduction of their working hours to 40 hours, but with payment corresponding to a 45 business hour week. They also want companies to assume the costs of food for employees, as well as transport and delivery of 5 uniforms twice a year.
The Union of Construction Workers of Panama is demanding $4.90 per hour minimum wage from companies who provide services to the Panama Canal or are operating in the reverted areas.
The request was made by the Trade Union of Construction Workers and Similar Entities (Suntracs). According to Saul Mendez, general secretary of Suntracs, the minimum wage for companies who work for the Canal or in the reverted areas is $2.90 hour and was established in 1980, in other words, it has not been revised in 33 years.
In 2010, the Panamanian construction industry is expected to generate more jobs than in 2009.
Several large construction projects will begin this year, the most notable being the third set of locks of the Panama Canal, the extension of the highway known as the "Coastal Belt", and the construction of a sewer tunnel and a water treatment plan for the bay of the City of Panama.
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