- 98.19% of Lan Express workers voted to strike, rejecting the almost zero wage increase offered by the largest airline in Latin America.
- All areas related to maintenance, ramp and passenger assistance are likely to be affected and cause delays and flight cancellations across the country and international connections.
- Latam Airlines has ongoing labour disputes which affect its operations and also its flights in Ecuador, Colombia and Brazil.
In Chile workers voted to strike with record participation and a strong 98.19% vote as a sign of their indignation at what they described as a “shameful” offer by LATAM Airlines. The company’s proposal ignores the status of the workers and takes no responsibility for improving working conditions, instead preferring to keep a significant segment of the workforce below the poverty line.
On the evening of Tuesday April 7 Lan Express workers assembled at Chile’s trade union confederation the Central Unitaria de Trabajadores and agreed the commencement of strike action from 00.00 (midnight) on Thursday April 9.
Luis Chavez, president of the Union of Workers of LAN Express (Sindilanex), representing 881 employees of the largest airline in Latin America, said that they could not put off action while the owners of the company are still getting rich at the expense of workers living below the poverty line. “We have to face as workers the irregularities which we’ve lived with for many years, where management require us to make sacrifices so their dreams can be realised. The offer that Lan Chile made this week as part of the good offices of the Labour Inspectorate (following the strike ballot), keeps the workers of the region’s largest airline in poverty, with unjust wages, below the minimum wage – about 211,000 (US$ 345) pesos on average,” Chavez stated.
Sindilanex brings together 881 employees ramp, passenger assistance and maintenance workers – all in vital areas for the proper functioning and safety of flights at airports throughout Chile.
The demand for improved pay and working conditions is shared by other airport workers, who have joined the demonstrations, including the Federación de Trabajadores LAN which is composed of the Sindicato LAN Cargo, Sindicato Fast-Air, Sindicato Mantenimiento LAN, Sindicato LAN Express, Sindicato Sky, Sindicato Airman and the Sindicato Andes along with the Sindicato de Tripulantes de Cabina de LAN Chile, and other unions from the airport.
More labour disputes in Ecuador, Colombia and Brazil
In Ecuador, demonstrations and protests have been held unceasingly since October 2014 against LAN Ecuador, following the dismissal of the founder and secretary general of the country’s first aviation union, Jimena Lopez – one of the demands of the Chilean workers is that she is reinstated.
In Colombia the company is laying off its most experienced mechanics and loading staff. The union will be mobilised. Passengers in Colombia will be advised of possible delays to their flights.
Chile, Colombia, Ecuador and Brazil are major hubs for connecting flights throughout Latin America and the delay of a flight is likely to affect connections in all countries where the Latam Airlines Group operates over the coming days.
International Workers’ Federation (ITF)
The trade unions representing LAN and TAM airline workers are active members of the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF). representing over 4.5 million transport workers in 150 countries worldwide. The LATAM Airlines Group includes the Chilean LAN Airlines and Brazil’s TAM Airlines, and is the largest carrier in Latin America.