Last updated: 03:39 PM ET, Thu July 02 2015

Union Leaders Aim to Support, Expand Ongoing LAN Airlines Strike

Airlines & Airports | LATAM Airlines Group | Patrick Clarke | April 14, 2015

Union Leaders Aim to Support, Expand Ongoing LAN Airlines Strike

Leaders of various unions representing LATAM Airlines Group workers are meeting in Santiago, Chile this week to support striking workers of the group's Chilean unit.

According to a press release from the International Federation of Transport Workers (ITF) LATAM Network on Tuesday, as many as 75 union leaders representing employees of the LATAM Airlines Group, spanning seven South American countries (Chile, Peru, Argentina, Colombia, Ecuador, Brazil and Paraguay), are scheduled to meet in Chile in an effort to support the ongoing strike and expand the protest across the continent. 

"The union leaders meeting in Santiago represent more than 50,000 workers in the LATAM Group and are unanimous in denouncing the anti-worker practices and the multiple conflicts with aviation workers throughout the region," states the press release. "These conflicts include the strike in Chile, and the anti-union dismissal of the president of the Ecuadorian aviation union, Jimena Lopez."

Workers at the Chilean unit of LATAM Airlines went on strike this past Thursday in the wake of rejecting the group's contract offer and requesting government mediation in future negotiations, according to Reuters

At the time, Eric Arce, a senior official at the LAN Express union, confirmed that the strike had begun in Chile. However, last week, the LATAM Group stated it had a contingency plan in place that would allow operations to continue as normal despite the setback.

"The company is going to be able to resist the first few days, but on the weekend (their contingency plan) is going to fall apart because the areas they have covered don't work on Saturday and Sunday," said Arce.

The union is requesting a 15 percent increase in salary to combat annual inflation in addition to improved working conditions and benefits for employees. It remains to be seen whether the newfound support of the striking workers in Chile will inspire more strikes and ultimately lead the LATAM Group to concede in contract talks. 

The LATAM Airlines Group was founded three years ago following the merger of Chilean flagship LAN Airlines and Brazil's TAM Airlines. The group currently operates both subsidiaries.  

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