Construction unionists murdered in Panama

August 30, 2007

Two trade unionists have been murdered in Panama for opposing mass dismissals and the obligation to join the yellow union, SINDICOPP, controlled by construction giant Norberto Odebrecht. The International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), which has three affiliated organisations in Panama — Confederacion de Trabajadores de la Republica de Panama (CTRP), Confederacion General de Trabajadores de Panama (CGTP) and Convergencia Sindical (CS) — has condemned the murders.

On August 14, Osvaldo Lorenzo Perez, leader of the Sindicato Unico Nacional de Trabajadores de la Industria de la Construccion y Similares (SUNTRACS), was shot dead by a worker hired by Brazilian construction company Norberto Odebrecht, while demonstrating with a group of workers. The protest was calling for the reinstatement of some 100 unfairly dismissed workers. In March, SUNTRACS launched a major campaign denouncing the violation of health and safety standards in a bid to halt the wave of deaths and the deterioration of working condition in the construction industry.

Luigi Antonio Argueles, another SUNTRACS representative, was shot dead by a police officer on August 16, as he headed for MAQTEC SA (a Colombian-owned subcontractor) with a group of workers to present a formal resolution issued by the mayor of Balbo ordering the company's closure for failing to comply with municipal bylaws and to demand the payment of the wages owed.

The ITUC, along with its regional organisations ORIT and CLAT, has called on the government of Panama to carry out a full investigation into the murders.

[Visit the website of the ITUC at]

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