After a strike of more than a week and hours of negotiations, on April 10, Panama Ports Company (PPC) workers of the ports of Balboa and Cristobal decided to end the stoppage.
Both parties reached a tentative agreement in the presence of the Minister of Labor (Midratel), Alma Cortes.
The Minister signed the agreement and decided to submit a proposal to amend Act 34 of 1979, governing dock work.
This was one of the most fervent demands of workers, to present to the president of the National Assembly, Hector Aparicio, a proposal to amend the Act currently governing dockworkers and regulating labor relations and wages.
“Obviously it does not conform to the Constitution and does not conform to international conventions,” said Alma Cortes, regarding the nature of the law. She also added in a statement to television that “we fulfill the request to bring the issue to the Assembly, which is the body where legislative matters are discussed.”
If they achieve the change, workers will be guaranteed a base salary as required by the Labor Code and international conventions.
Besides this, Minister Cortes highlighted the points that had been agreed.
The company promised not to retaliate against workers, offered to pay a bonus of $150 within seven days and both parties undertook to improve the system of allocation of shifts. Regarding working hours, the company will guarantee a 40-hour work week as a minimum. In a period not exceeding 60 days, the company must also correct the problems of distribution and quality of food. Another point was the commitment of PPC to improve labor relations between workers and superiors.
Manuel Navarro, an employee representative, expressed his satisfaction with the transparency with which negotiations were carried out.
However, despite the optimism expressed by Navarro, some of his colleagues made known their discomfort because they disagreed with the consensus and claimed that they had not received assignments in several days. PPC is committed to establishing a salary adjustment, as there has been a collective agreement in force since 2011.
Concerning the differences with the union, Navarro said the decision to remove him or not will be taken through a general assembly.
Luca Versari, general manager of the company avoided talking about the losses that occurred during the strike and simply said that he agreed with partners to catch up.
This post is also available in: Spanish