Last updated: 05:10 PM ET, Thu April 09 2015

Chilean Airline Strike Expected to Cause Delays and Cancellations

Impacting Travel | Donald Wood | April 09, 2015

Chilean Airline Strike Expected to Cause Delays and Cancellations

Locals and international visitors looking to make their way around Chile may have a difficult time as workers from one of the country’s largest airlines, LAN Express, have gone on strike against low wages and lackluster working conditions.

According to a press release from the International Transport Workers’ Federation, LAN Express works voted on Tuesday in regards to a strike, and it was a resounding 98.19 percent of the voters who agreed with the public demonstrations.

The strike went into effect Thursday at midnight, and the protests are expected to cause delays and flight cancelations across the country.

The decision to strike was a result of the updated contract offer from LATAM Airlines Group, the parent company of LAN Express. The striking employees described the offer as shameful, and claim the company “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.”

President of the Union of Workers of LAN Express (Sindilanex), Luis Chavez, released a statement via the press release about the mistreatment of the workers and the decision to strike:

“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 realized. The offer that LAN Chile made this week as part of the good offices of the Labor 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 pesos (US$ 345) on average.”

Sindilanex helps unionize 881 ramp, passenger assistance and maintenance employees who are major contributing factors to the success of LAN Express in Chile. The LATAM Airlines Group is also dealing with backlash from employees in Ecuador, Colombia and Brazil.

*This story was updated April 9 at 5 p.m. ET to reflect statements from LAN Airlines.

The official statment from LAN Airlines reads as follows:

Regarding the strike announced by the Union of Workers of LAN Express (Sindicato de Trabajadores de LAN Express), which encompasses Maintenance and Ground Operations personnel within Chile, LAN informs that they have prepared a plan to continue operating normally by minimizing the effects that this halt could have on their operations.

The Company regrets having reached this instance after making every effort to come to an agreement. This strike, which affects 5% of LAN’s workforce within Chile, will become effective starting at midnight on Thursday, April 9.

LAN reiterates its commitment to maintaining the highest safety standards in all its operations to protect our passengers and employees. The Company welcomes an open dialogue with the union and trusts in reaching a solution as soon as possible.

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