Panama: Construction workers’ strike strong and united

Members of the Union of Construction Workers (SUNTRACS) remain strong and united after 20 days of indefinite strike, according to SUNTRACS General Secretary Saúl Méndez.  He warned negotiators of the Panamanian Chamber of Construction (CAPAC) that if they did not present a "serious" proposal of wage increase, the national construction workers strike will continue .

The construction industry in Panama has been paralysed since the strike was launched on 18 April, with 90,000 workers stopping work at construction project sites throughout the country.  After more than five months of intense negotiations, dialogue between the union and CAPAC have stalled altogether due to an insufficient wage proposal by the employers.

SUNTRACS have substantially reduced their demanded increase from 15% to 11%, however employers have maintained their hardline position of only a 1% wage increase for all labor categories in the industry.

At the recent SUNTRACS Workers’ Assembly on 30 April, a majority of the workers ratified a motion to continue the strike.  Despite profits estimated at 30 billion dollars over the past four years, the employers have so far refused to entertain any higher wage proposal for its workers.

Workers continue to participate in a series of mobilisations in major cities across Panama by taking to the streets. They are actively distributing leaflets to educate other working people about their demand for a decent wage and build community solidarity. During the strike SUNTRACS is providing each worker with $50 USD from a worker-funded strike fund.