Panama’s National Front for the Defense of Social Rights (FRENADESO) called an end to the 24-hour national strike that shut down construction work and schools with a claimed 95% effectiveness July 13. The strike, called in protest of a new anti-union law, included a march estimated at 1,000 in Panama City. The general secretary of the CONUSI labor federation, Gabriel Castillo, called the strike a “success,” while business leaders said that it did not affect most sectors of the economy.
Passed on June 12, Law 30 allows workers in unionized sectors such as construction to opt out of union dues, which used to be automatically taken out of paychecks. The law also allows the government to take stronger action against strikes and to use non-union workers. In a provision opposed by environmentalists, it also allows construction projects to go ahead without an impact study if the government determines there is a “social interest.” (Xinhua, July 14; Newsroom Panama, LAHT, July 13)
After the strike, Panama’s assistant prosecutor general, Ángel Calderón, announced that warrants issued for 17 union leaders have been withdrawn. Calderón said he ordered the Judicial Investigation Department (DIJ) to suspend the warrants that had been issued against the strike leaders for conspiracy to commit actions against collective security. (Newsroom Panama, July 14)
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