The Panama Canal Authority (ACP) has dismissed recent claims by the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) over alleged privatization and safety in the Expanded Panama Canal, adding that it “is not privatizing any of its services.”
“Through the years, the ACP has retained the services of commercial tugs in order to supplement the demand during peak hours of the day with high demand due to heavy traffic. This practice is not new, and has been in use for the last four decades,” ACP said.
The tugboat fleet increased from 20 vessels which were in service in December 1999, when the ACP assumed the administration of the waterway, to a fleet of a total of 46 in 2014 in preparation for the Expanded Canal.
Additionally, the authority said that “the allegation that the Panama Canal is attempting to eliminate the unions is without merit and contradicts recent efforts made by the Administration to successfully negotiate bargaining unit agreements with four unions thus impacting 97.5% of the ACP workforce, including the contract with the union that represents the tugboat masters and officers of the Panama Canal.”
Regarding the ITF commissioned maneuverability study, the Panama Canal Authority said that its safety record and more than 300 Neopanamax ships that have transited since the inauguration of the new locks are “proof that the Panama Canal studies were performed by employing all the proper data obtained during the design and construction phases of the locks and channels, and that the simulations reflect the expected vessels real-life performance.”
The Panama Canal was not consulted by the ITF when commissioning their study and “thus factored in erroneous precepts” regarding Neopanamax transit operations and assigned resources, according to the authority.