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Wednesday, July 23 2014 @ 10:12 AM EDT

Medical Strike Will Soon Be Over

Protests & DemonstrationsWhile the members of the National Medical Negotiating Commission (Comenenal) say they are still on strike, for their part, the medical leaders of the Santo Tomas hospital are conducting their own negotiations with representatives from the Ministry of Health in order to reach an agreement to end the strike. Fernando Cebamanos, a Comenenal leader, told the Panama America newspaper that they have not yet received any response from the government to the counter offer they made today, and that is unfortunate because the government has in its hands the possibility to end the strike, and they are doing different types of maneuvers, to put pressure on the medical workers and administrative personnel to end the strike. On the other hand, Fernando Castaneda, Comenenal member, said he learned there are groups who are turncoats, negotiating with the government, who are doing everything to divide the movement to end the strike. However, Cebamanos said no one could end the strike on behalf of the Comenenal, the unions could reach individual agreements on their own, but it would be unfortunate if they do so out of the commission, because they should negotiate together and that has not been happening. "The Comenenal is on strike, and their representatives voted to stay on strike until we receive a response to our demands," said Cebamanos. The position of staying on strike until the government accepts the list of demands presented by the Comenenal is supported by the doctors who belong to AMOACS, the doctors at two hospitals in Chiriqui, the doctors at Children's Hospital of the Social Security Fund, and others. (Panama America)

Editor's Comment: I've seen this happen dozens of times in Panama. It's common for these groups of organized unions to be led by political radicals. The leadership of these organizations then sort of "hijack" the strike that was started by one of their member organizations. The very small part - which actually represents the minority view - then tries to use the strike to push for an ever growing list of demands, things that most often don't have anything to do with the original reason for going on strike. The government then realizes that there is a larger majority with whom they can negotiate an end to the strike. They reach an agreement, and the vast majority of the strikers go back to work. There was a case not too long ago in which (I forget who it was, teachers maybe?) the larger group accepted a hefty pay raise and went back to work. The smaller minority was left in the position of still trying to block roads and cause trouble, even though their members had already been granted a hefty raise and an increase in benefits. Anyway, this strike will soon be over, one way or the other.

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