Panama: ILO complaint due to First Quantum Minerals case

 

On the 7th of June the BWI along with the Union of Construction Workers in Panama (SUNTRACS) and the Panamanian Trade Union Center CONUSI, filed a case at the International Labour Organization (ILO) for violation of convention 87 – freedom of association and the right to protection of the right to organize and convention 98 – right to organize and collective bargaining.

In February, the company, the union and labour authorities signed an agreement that included arrangements and improvements for workers in the mining extraction projects that this company develops in the Donoso district, Province of Colón, on the Caribbean coast of Panama.

Last week, First Quantum Minerals, a Canadian company, assisted by the police authorities, violently attacked workers who disagreed with the project, demanded their back-wages, and called on the company to comply with the February agreement.

The complaint was presented by the Secretary General of SUNTRACS, Saul Méndez, BWI Secretary General, Ambet Yuson and the Secretary of Organization of the CONUSI of Panama, Gabriel Castillo at the ILO headquarters in Geneva.

Last week the BWI Regional Representative, Nilton Freitas addressed the President of Panama, raising concerns about the government’s unilateral handling of the labour dispute and arrest of members of SUNTRACS. Freitas demanded the immediate release of 12 union leaders, among them, workers and social communicators. Subsequently, the workers were released in the city of Colon on 6 June.