Chiquita has suspended purchases from three independent growers in Panama for the fourth week in a row.

The move will affect 830 staff at Coobana, (Cooperativa Bananera del Atlántico), Juan Cavilca and EMB (Empresa Mixta Bananera), all based in the province of Bocas del Toro.

It could mean that for the first time ever, employees will not be paid, Coobana president Demetrio Jiménez warned.

The three companies estimated their collective loss would reach $180,000.

They have reportedly requested Chiquita allow them to negotiate with other contractors despite the fact that outside business is disallowed under their current contracts.