Wave of anti-union repression in Panama

The ITUC, together with its affiliated organisations in Panama, firmly condemns the violent repression of the strike movement by workers in the Bocas del Toro Province that has resulted in killings, more than 100 people injured and at least 300 arrests.

According to information received by the ITUC, several acts of repression took place on 8 July in the Province, in which six people lost their lives. These unacceptable acts were targeted against banana workers and construction workers from the Panama Canal in Colón. Leaders of the SUNTRACS and CONATO trade unions were arrested.

The striking workers were protesting against the decision by the Government of Panama to impose Law 30, which undermines fundamental rights, such as the right to strike and freedom of association. Law 30 also penalises workers who take their protests to the streets, an offence which can result in up to two years in prison.

According to the latest news, the government has called a cabinet meeting, which is expected to adopt further repressive measures, such as arrest warrants against specific trade union leaders. The suspension of fundamental rights is also a possibility.

In a letter to the Panamanian authorities, the ITUC urges the President of Panama, Ricardo Martinelli, to take concrete and urgent measures to ease the tension in the country and order an investigation into the deaths to find out how they happened as quickly as possible, identify those responsible and apply the relevant penal and administrative measures.

The ITUC, together with its affiliates in Panama and its regional organisation for the Americas, TUCA, demands the immediate repeal of the controversial Law 30, which has become a licence to kill for the police, creating a climate of extreme violence that led to the events of 8 July and the persecution of the Bocas del Toro banana and construction workers.

For more information, please contact the ITUC Press Department on 32 2 224 02 04 or + 32 476 62 10 18

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