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."
On the other hand, 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.
Further details on the sanctions, the number of captains implicated, as well as when the incident happened are not provided yet.
Tal como anunciamos, la administración del @canaldepanama amenaza con sancionar a capitanes que se opusieron a hacer las maniobras sin la dotación completa, que pone en riesgo vidas humanas y al canal en sí! Todo esto es parte del plan de privatización! pic.twitter.com/m8uJQirEFm
— UCOC Panamá (@UCOCPTY) April 12, 2018
The ACP said:
The Canal administration, aware of its responsibility to guarantee the safety of its workers and the reliability of the operation, decided to take this measure to safeguard the greater interests of Panama and the Canal.