Aviation strikes in Argentina and Brazil ramp up pressure on LATAM

February 11, 2016

LATAMStrikes by civil aviation workers in Brazil and Argentina on 3 February were the latest actions in a battle across the region to improve working conditions at the giant LATAM Airlines Group (LATAM).

The two-hour stoppage in Brazil was part of a general strike organised by pilots, cabin crew and ground staff over the collective bargaining agreement between their unions and all airline companies.

The stoppage affected 12 of Brazil’s airports, with a reported 40 delays and 42 cancellations among 297 domestic flights. Workers launched a passenger information campaign explaining why they were acting and alerting passengers to the difficulties they would encounter.

Sergio Dias, President of FENTAC, the Civil Aviation Federation of Brazil, explained: “Striking is the last measure we take to express to the company the need to recognize and value our professional skills and qualifications. We are responsible for flight safety standards and the success of the aviation sector in the region.”

LATAM workers in Colombia also decided to take action. In Argentina, a legal mediation process started by strikers and worker assemblies involving the national labour office reached its final day on 4 February, so unions are considering the outcome. A series of short strikes in January in Argentina delayed several flights at the domestic and international airports, and created additional delays in Chile, Peru, Brazil and Paraguay.

LATAM has fired union leaders in Peru and Ecuador without cause, and has made cost cutting changes in the operations. These include the loss of numerous mechanics, dispatchers and other highly skilled aviation workers.

ITF civil aviation secretary Gabriel Mocho expressed his hope that the escalation of strike actions in the region would persuade LATAM to address workers’ longstanding grievances over pay and working conditions, and to finally accept unions’ offer of dialogue with a global group of LATAM unions on social issues to prevent disputes, which it had so far ignored.

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