The banana workers' strike in Bocas del Toro, which has lasted for more than 15 days, is generating millions in losses. Producers are protesting the placement of security cameras in the plantations and packing houses of Chiquita Panama and according to sources from Chiquita Panama, they have been unable to export some 65,000 boxes of banana a day due to the strike.
In addition, since the strikers haven't allowed the personnel that carries out control measures into the farms, the black Sigatoka disease is affecting the 5,800 hectares of bananas. Moreover, the fruit is ripening in the field, which will generate even more losses. “We have not been able to bag the bunches and there are so many bananas we can't quantify losses. Once the strike is over, it will take more than 3 months to recover the 21 farms distributed throughout the region,” a source stated.
The situation has been aggravated by the rains there have been in the province since Wednesday that are already beginning to wreak havoc on the banana plantations of Finca 4 and Las 60.
Merchants have also spoken out against the strike because of its negative effects on the local economy. Some company workers oppose the work stoppage, as they fear it could have the same ending as the 2002 strike in Puerto Armuelles, Chiriqui province, where - after a labor dispute - the company closed operations leaving more than 3,000 people unemployed.
Chiquita Panama exports some 14 million boxes of bananas to the European market and generates about 4,000 direct and indirect jobs in Bocas del Toro, where most of the workforce comes from indigenous areas.