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Government of Panama Will Increase Salary for Banana Growers

3.1.2020

Banana workers in Changuinola, in the north-western area of Panama, suspended an indefinite strike after negotiating a 28% staggered wage adjustment.

The demand was for an increase of 25%, but during the negotiation the workers agreed to receive an 8% increase from January 15th, 13% in 2021 and a further 7% by 2023 said Liberto Becker of the Industrial Workers Union of Independent Banana Producers (Sitrapbi).

They also agreed that the company would not deduct from the workers payment for the days not worked, while the government committed to the delivery of school and Christmas bonds, and scholarships for the workers' children, he added.

A presidential decree issued last Tuesday granted them only the 8% increase, the highest of those approved for any sector but not representing a solution to their demands, banana workers maintained the protest and in the early morning they reached the new agreement.

As additional help, the National Government undertook to build some 1,500 homes for workers, many of whom come from the distant Ngabe Buglé Region and must rent homes to spend the night while they work in the fields near the border with Costa Rica.

The 7,000 workers of the 29 farms benefiting from the agreements will receive the visit from the president of the country.

Since December 29th, banana growers blocked streets and roads of Changuinola in the province of Bocas del Toro while declaring an indefinite strike until their salary requirements were met, taking into account that the current remuneration barely covers part of the basic basket.

The conflict in the biennial review of remuneration arose for the second time in a row when unions and representatives of private companies failed to reach agreements, and by law it was up to the Executive to make the decision that they considered most beneficial for the nation.

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