On Thursday, Panamanian trade unions took to the streets to demand an increase in minimum wages, which seeks to counteract fuels and food prices increasing due to the Russia - Ukraine armed conflict.
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“The armed conflict in Ukraine cannot be an excuse to lower the consumption capacity of citizens, which already dropped due to the COVID-19 pandemic," National Front for the Defense of Economic and Social Rights (FRENADESO) coordinator Jorge Guzman stated.
Panama, a net importer of fuels, experiences its highest increase in gasoline prices since 2014, with costs exceeding one dollar per liter. This situation has fostered high food prices due to the transportation costs increase.
"First-need products’ prices cannot be ruled by laws of supply and demand, which put the destinies of citizens in the hands of merchants,” National Confederation of Independent Trade Union (CONUSI) Secretary Marcos Andrade stated.
Currently, about 40 minimum wages exist in Panama. The law establishes that trade unions must adjust these salaries’ levels every two through a consensus with their employers every two years.
On Friday, Panama’s Industrial Union of Flour and Allied Workers (SITHA) ended an 11-day strike after its members obtained a 4 percent annual wage increase. The protest paralyzed production at the seven facilities of the Mexican transnational company Bimbo.
"Making agreements with employers is possible, but this consensus requires protests,” Andrade highlighted, adding that national trade unions will remain united to fight for their rights.