April 17, 2018 / 12:48 PM / 8 months ago

Chile-based LATAM Airlines, union reach initial deal but strike continues

SANTIAGO, April 17 (Reuters) - 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, a vice president 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.

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’s Sender said the airline was scheduled to meet with the union again Tuesday at 15:00 local time (1800 GMT) to sign the draft agreement.

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

The week-long strike has primarily impacted flights within Chile, though it has also affected regional connections throughout South America.

LATAM told Reuters on Monday it had canceled 1,134 flights through April 21, and that the strike would affect at least 196,000 passengers.

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.

Reporting by Dave Sherwood and Antonio De la Jara; Editing by Bernadette Baum

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