Panama union workers block highways over First Quantum contract

26th September 2023 By: Mariaan Webb - Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor Online

Panama union workers block highways over First Quantum contract

Cobre Panama

Panama’s construction workers’ union blocked highways and marched on congress on Monday to demand that lawmakers reject a contract with Canadian miner First Quantum Minerals.

Union leader Saul Mendez said the contract violates national sovereignty by granting the company control of land, air and maritime space and does not do enough to protect workers’ rights.

The contract is under discussion in Panama’s legislative commerce committee, which has been holding informative meetings with affected communities over the past two weeks. The contract will require three votes in the legislative assembly before becoming law.

President Laurentino Cortizo said over the weekend he would await recommendations from the commerce committee before he decides whether or not to withdraw the bill from Congress.