Thousands of construction workers have walked off the job-site at the $5.25 billion project to widen and modernize the Panama Canal, citing pay and safety issues.
The workers are demanding pay increases from $2.90 an hour to $4.90 with skilled wages up to $7.10 from the current $3.52.
The consortium in charge of the project, Grupo Unidos por el Canal, has been accused of failing to pay workers overtime and vacation pay, as well as having inadequate safety conditions. The firm blames a recent change in the payroll system for any errors in payment, and insists its wages are above average for the region, but the more than 6,000 workers plan to strike indefinitely until their demands are met.
The Panama Expansion Project includes the installation of a third set of locks, aimed at increasing the capacity of the canals and allowing bigger ships to use the system. Currently, about 14,000 ships pass through the locks each year.
Look for a blog in our upcoming February issue of Construction Digital focusing on how BIM is driving much of the Canal Project.