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The working class is bearing the burden of the COVID-19 crisis given that "neither private companies nor the Government have put their share".
Panama's National Union of Construction Workers (Suntracs) on Tuesday took to the streets to demand that President Laurentino Cortizo not suspend wages during the quarantine that will be established in the first two weeks of January.
"The problem here is not the quarantine... The problem is that they send people penniless to their homes. That is why we are protesting," Suntracs Secretary Saul Mendez explained.
The construction workers protested in front of the works in progress in several cities and announced they would continue their demonstrations until decision makers accept a "quarantine without hunger" during the upcoming lockdown.
"The protests will be repeated until wages are guaranteed to workers whose contracts are going to be suspended," Mendez said, stressing that the working class is bearing the burden of the COVID-19 crisis given that "neither private companies nor the Government have put their share".
Regarding this asymmetric situation, he recalled that the Cortizo's officials "have lost no privilege" and private employers oppose wage increases every time they are asked to show some solidarity with the workers.
Mendez denounced that this collusion between Cortizo and the businessmen is one factor that has prevented an adequate public response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
"We do not know where the US$9-billion loan the government received is... We are facing very serious problems related to the lack of control of the pandemic and the misdirection of the government," the Suntracs leader said.
As of Tuesday morning, Panama had reported 233,705 COVID-19 cases and 3,892 deaths.