According to ITF, the Tugboat Captains refused to perform operations in the Canal because they have serious concerns regarding health and safety after the ACP’s decision to reduce the number of crew on the tugboats.

The union representatives of the captains claim safety issues over their refusal, adding that the sanction is part of a tug privitization plan in the Canal.

ITF said in a statement:

This is compounded by concerns they have previously raised regarding the excessive overtime being required of Tugboat Captains, which has led to fatigue and is having a grave impact on their health and wellbeing.

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According to an official statement by the Panama Canal Administration, the decision came after the tugboat captains refused to assist the transit of vessels through the neopanamax locks, which impacted the regular maritime traffic "and caused a negative economic impact for the country, as it affected the image of the Panama Canal."