The International Transport Workers’ Federation
has criticized the ongoing privatization efforts of the Panama Canal Authority (ACP) as being counter to the safety of traversing through the canal’s expanded locks.
According to the ITF, the ACP undertook a study in 2011 to determine the type and size of tugboats needed to operate the new locks.
“Their findings pointed towards a certain amount of personnel, tugs and other resources as well as training and operational procedures needed and that are lacking today,” the ITF reported.
However, ACP did not increase its tugboat fleets, despite the revised plans, with privatization threatening its member in the Panama Canal as “the lack of vessels has been used as an excuse for chartering 12 tugboats from private and anti-union companies.”
“The truth is that what the ACP has done with these private tugboat companies is evidently part of a bigger plan to privatise many of the services offered by the Canal,” Paddy Crumlin, ITF president observed.
“This privatisation has been rightly condemned by our Panamanian member unions, who are well aware of the accident risks and uncertainty being generated by this among canal workers,” he further noted.
Crumlin added that risks raised in the study are already taking place in the new locks.
“All these factors point towards a severe breach of the integrity of the operation and a serious downgrade of the safety to navigation through our waterway,” Crumlin explained.
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