The International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) has strongly criticized the Panama Canal Authority’s recently launched process of issuing sanctions against tugboat captains.
The ACP launched the process last week to sanction certain tug captains that refused to transit ships through the expanded canal, saying that the captains’ refusal affected the traffic through the Neopanamax locks and “caused a negative economic impact on the country.”
In a statement, ITF informed that the captains are “refusing to perform operations in the canal because they have serious concerns regarding health and safety after the ACP’s unilateral decision to reduce the number of crew on the tugboats.”
This is compounded by concerns they have previously raised regarding the excessive overtime being required of tugboat captains, which has led to fatigue and is having a grave impact on their health and wellbeing, ITF continued.
“The ITF is astonished and disappointed that the ACP has taken such an adversarial position against the workers and the Union de Capitanes y Oficials de Cubierta (UCOC) when all they want is to ensure safe operations in the canal.”
ITF has urged the ACP to withdraw the sanctions and enter into a constructive dialogue with the unions.
UCOC earlier said that the Panama Canal Authority is deploying a reduced number of crew members to the tugboats as a way of cutting costs.