Panama police kills 2nd banana worker in labor protest

Panamanian officials say police on Saturday shot dead a second banana plantation worker in labor protests over a law in the Central American country.

Panama police kills 2nd banana worker in labor protest

Panamanian officials say police on Saturday shot dead a second banana plantation worker in labor protests over a law in the Central American country.

Cabinet chief Jimmy Papadimitriu confirms the man was shot by police. He says officers fired "pellets," but without specifying what kind.

Workers protest a new law that allows companies to fire striking workers.

Banana workers have been on strike for more than a week in the western city of Changuinola. A protester was killed by a shotgun blast on Thursday.

On Saturday, television images showed riot police shooting tear gas and shotguns as they broke through barricades of felled trees and corrugated metal set up by protesters.

The president's office did not give details about the person killed on Saturday, who was described by local media as a male resident of the banana growing district.

Three police officers taken hostage by strikers were freed after a fourth kidnapped officer escaped, the office said.

President Ricardo Martinelli signed a law last month that allows companies to suspend contracts of striking workers and hire replacements. Unions are also upset because member dues are voluntary under the new law.

In another smoldering labor conflict, some workers laid down their tools on Saturday at the Panama Canal expansion project in central Panama, deputy labor minister Luis Ernesto Carles told Reuters.

Earlier in the week, dozens of striking workers on the $5.25 billion project were fired and several were arrested for refusing to return to work after authorities brokered a deal to improve work conditions.

The Panama Canal has remained open throughout the dispute.


Agencies

Güncelleme Tarihi: 11 Temmuz 2010, 10:11

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