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Panama gov't to mediate canal workers' strike

(Xinhua)

15:47, January 19, 2012

PANAMA CITY, Jan. 18 (Xinhua) -- Panama's government had moved in to settle a strike that has shut the Panama Canal expansion project over pay and safety claims, Labor Minister Alma Cortez said Wednesday.

The minister said the government received a 27-point petition submitted by workers from Cocoli sector, a new set of locks on the Pacific side of the Canal, which is a part of the expansion project.

Cortez said she would call representatives from the Panama Canal Authority,the operator of the canal since 1999, and United for Panama Canal Group, the company in charge of the third phase of the project, to find a solution to the crisis.

The government would defend Panamanian workers' right, Cortez said.

When the strike began Monday, workers said their claim was fair because foreign personnel working on the project enjoyed better pay.

The 5.25 billion U.S. dollar project to expand the canal to take larger ships, began in 2006 and is scheduled to be completed in eight years.

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