ITF statement on plan to further reduce crew on Panama Canal tugs

The International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) has said that it has been made aware of a communication sent on May 30th by the Panama Canal Authority (ACP) to the Union de Capitanes y Oficiales de Cubierta (UCOC) about reducing the tug’s complement to the minimum manning established by the Panama Maritime Authority.

The ACP informed the UCOC that from July 1st there would be further reductions to the crew with the removal of the additional captain. ITF said that the decision followed the removal of a deckhand in April 2018, a move that, according to the UCOC, could jeopardize the safety of the tug and its crew.

The ACP claims that the move, together with other unspecified changes, would provide the captains with an improved working schedule and potentially reduce the demand to perform overtime.

The ITF noted that overtime regularly exceeded normal working hours, with some captains forced to work more than 16 hours a day.

The ITF said that the ACP has acknowledged that the concerns highlighted by the UCOC, the ITF and its unions about extreme working conditions in the new locks were real, the ACP had not opened a dialogue.

The ITF said that the manner in which the ACP had delivered its decisions had not come as a surprise to the ITF, since repeated offers by the ITF to help facilitate a dialogue between the ACP and the UCOC had so far been left unanswered