LATAM union continues strike despite reaching initial deal with Chilean airlines

SANTIAGO – Chile-based LATAM Airlines and a union of flight attendants for subsidiary LAN Express reached an initial labor agreement early on Tuesday, the union and the airline said, even as the union cautioned that a week-long strike would continue until it had voted on the deal.

Claudia Sender, the Vice President of Clients at LATAM, the region’s largest carrier, confirmed the two parties had reached an agreement, but said the airline would continue to reschedule flights in the short-term until details were finalized.

“Early this morning, together with the union, we reached total agreement between the two parties,” Sender said.

During the afternoon of Monday and after a new meeting between the air group Latam and the Union of Crewmen of Cabin of Chile, she said that the firm was open to continue the dialogue to close the negotiations.

“Latam is still open, flexible and one hundred percent committed to closing this negotiation as quickly as possible so that we can return to the normality of our operation,” said Sender on the crew strike that lasted seven days on Monday.

In that sense, the representative of the company said that “during these seven days, Latam was forced to cancel more than one thousand one hundred flights and impact more than 200 thousand passengers.”

Also, Sender offered an apology to the users affected by the cancellation of flights. “To each of our clients, we ask for the most sincere apologies, because we know that the most impacted with this strike are them.”

The 1,000-member Cabin Crew Union of LAN Express, which began a walkoff on April 10, said its workers would not comment on the agreement or its terms until after an assembly and a vote are held.

“The meeting {with LATAM} finished at three in the morning and they have decided not to talk until after the assembly,” said Nancy Aranciaba, a spokeswoman for the union. “The strike continues.”

LATAM strike affects 126,000 passengers

The union has cited the duration of rotations and salaries of new employees as primary sticking points during months of negotiations with the airline.

LATAM was created in 2012 through a merger of Chile’s LAN and Brazil’s TAM. The group, headquartered in Santiago, has operating units in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Paraguay and Peru.