Mismanagement Denounced at Panama Canal

2,116Views 0Comments Posted 03/06/2024

The Federation of Professional Associations of Panama (FEDAP) through a statement expressed its deep concern regarding the poor management of the Administration of the Panama Canal Authority (ACP), including its Board of Directors.  The statement indicates that it is crucial that measures be taken to ensure a transparent, efficient administration committed to the well-being of workers, the protection of the environment and the national interest. 


Poor Maintenance and Increase in Operational Accidents  

Operational accidents in the Panama Canal have increased significantly, leading the Canal to situations that almost replicate incidents such as that of the Suez Canal on more than one occasion.  The lack of adequate maintenance has caused the cannibalism of the equipment and its premature deterioration, as it does not meet the manufacturers' specifications.  Despite these problems, the Administration continues to use highly dangerous tugboats, which has resulted in several serious accidents and increasing insecurity among workers. 


Labor Conflicts

The Collective Convention of the Union of Captains and Deck Officers (UCOC) has been stagnant for five years due to the Administration's refusal to negotiate and its imposition of unilateral criteria.  In addition, each manager arbitrarily applies disciplinary measures in his area, with the support of the Labor Relations Section, a kind of "Gestapo" of the current administrator. 


Weakness of the Labor Relations Board

The Labor Relations Board, created under the Organic Law of 1997 as a mediator and balancer between workers and administration, has been weak, apathetic and biased towards the Canal administration.  The Administration frequently ignores their decisions, even disobeying rulings of the Supreme Court of Justice, which perpetuates a violation of workers' rights.  


Environmental Impact and Lack of Planning 

The current administration and its Board of Directors have also demonstrated alarming negligence towards the environment, as evidenced by the recent fuel spill from the ship Katya in the Miraflores lock.  Additionally, tugboats and other equipment continue to emit large amounts of pollutants into the atmosphere, despite costly misinformation campaigns promoting a false "green channel" label. 


The administrative disorder has caused great economic losses to the Panamanian nation, forcing restrictions on draft and transit of ships, and covering up losses of cargo and clients by attributing them exclusively to atmospheric phenomena such as El Niño.  All Canal administrations have evaded the problem of the need for water for its future operation and the supply of drinking water for the population.