April 2, 2018 / 5:36 PM / a year ago

LATAM Airlines unit to extend contract talks amid threat of strike

SANTIAGO, April 2 (Reuters) - LAN Express, a subsidiary of LATAM Airlines in Chile, said on Monday it had requested government-facilitated mediation to extend talks with a union of cabin workers that have threatened to strike as early as next week.

The nearly 1,000-member union voted last week to strike as early as April 3 after it had failed to reach a deal on a labor contract with LATAM. {nL1N1RC091}

The new period of government mediation would extend talks for at least five additional days and stave off the risk of a strike until April 9, LAN Express said in a statement.

“The company continues normal operations,” the airline said.

The union has said that a strike would paralyze local and regional flights throughout LATAM´s service region.

But LATAM said the majority of flights affected would be within Chile, with minimal impact on regional flights and no effect at all on other international travel.

The Union of Cabin Workers of LAN Express declined to comment on the matter.

Last week’s motion to strike follows several months of negotiations and was approved by 95 percent of the union´s workers.

The union said it had failed to reach agreement with management on issues that include rotation lengths and salaries for newly hired workers.

LATAM was formed in 2012 through a tie-up between Chile’s LAN and Brazil’s TAM. In December 2016, Qatar Airways acquired 10 percent of the company in a transaction worth $608 million.

LATAM operates in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Paraguay and Peru. (Reporting by Antonio De la Jara Writing by Dave Sherwood; editing by Diane Craft)

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