The International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) has condemned the recent move by the Panama Canal Authority (ACP) to sanction tugboat captains because of their recent actions regarding the expanded section of the canal.
The ACP said last week that it would be sanctioning tug captains who refused to transit ships through the expanded canal. The ACP said that the refusal by captains to operate without a third seaman on the lead tug had affected traffic through the Neopanamax locks, causing as a negative economic impact on the country as a result.
The ITF claimed that the captains’ action was safety-related, added to previously expressed concerns regarding the excessive overtime being required of tugboat captains. This, ITF said, had led to fatigue and was having a grave impact on their health and wellbeing.
“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 urged the ACP to withdraw the sanctions and to enter into what the ITF termed “a constructive dialogue” with the unions.