Grupo Unidos por el Canal (GUPC), the international consortium building a new set of locks for the expanded Panama Canal, has calling on about 6,000 workers to return to work.
GUPC said it was ready to speak with union representatives, but rejected violent acts, vandalism of equipment and recent threats to staff.
The company attributed the genesis of the strike to a flaw in a payroll system that resulted in some workers being underpaid and said the differences due were to be paid on Wednesday. But some workers want higher wages.
The Associated Press
quoted a representative for the workers as saying they want the base wage raised from $2.90 per hour to $4.90, and the wage for the most skilled workers raised from $3.52 per hour to $7.10. A statement issued by GUPC said the $2.90 per hour wage was above the minimum wage prevailing in the rest of Panama and was established in the contract it has with the Panama Canal Authority.
The Website Panama-Guide
reported that the leader of SUNTRACS - the National Union of Workers and Similars - "was met with stones and insults hurled by more than 1,000 striking construction workers on Wednesday."
"They booed him and called him a traitor, because they say he has not supported the working class as he should," the Website reported.
GUPC said it has 5,930 direct employees, of which only about 4 percent are specialized foreign personnel.
The Panama Canal Authority said it is "closely monitoring the labor situation" and canal traffic continues uninterruptedly.
It added that "other aspects of the Panama Canal expansion program such as dredging and dry excavation continue normally. The canal hopes for a quick resolution."