Latam is negotiating again with its pilots, now on national routes: a strike would be voted on at the start of the high season

When the blows of the hard collective bargaining that Latam had with its largest union of long-range flight pilots (SPL) have not yet ended, it is now the pilots union of Latam Airlines Chile (SIPLACH) –formerly Ladeco, which covers national routes and regional– the one that will start negotiations that also aim to recover the salary conditions that existed before the pandemic, when the company laid off 240 pilots and reduced salaries by 30%.

This time, it is a union that brings together 50 pilots, but which presents two peculiarities: they are pilots who mainly cover cabotage routes (national flights) and regional and whose eventual stoppage would be voted, if there is no agreement, just from December 31, in the middle of the high season, a situation that would make it difficult to cover all the routes. The other 72 Latam Airlines Chile pilots belong to an inter-company organization created in 2021.

Latam Airlines has three pilot unions. The main one is the SPL, with more than 313 professionals and which was founded 34 years ago; then, the aforementioned Siplach, founded in 1982, and finally, the SIEP, an inter-company organization created recently in 2021, in the midst of a pandemic.

“Our proposal is one of total justice: to recover working conditions equivalent to those we had in 2020, before the crisis, which hit our union particularly hard. We paid for a large part of the adjustment that the company imposed, we went from 197 pilots to 106 and after the formation of the newly created SIEP in the pandemic, to 50, but, in addition, our salaries were reduced by 30%. During the year and up to now, the company has not received us as a board of directors and we will only meet on December 6. We should vote for the strike, if there is no agreement, on December 31, right at the peak of the high travel season”, affirms the president of Siplach, Maximiliano Alcayaga.

The severe adjustments that affected the pilots of Latam Airlines are behind the complex internal labor that affects the company. Despite the normalization of the activity – with all the levels of the company, including senior management, with their pre-pandemic working conditions already recovered – the pilots were betting that this end of the year would be their turn and that they would return to a situation similar to the one they had before the crisis.

According to Alcayaga, this aspiration has solid bases of reality: in October, national passenger traffic exceeded its pre-pandemic level for the first time, according to the statistical report prepared monthly by the Civil Aeronautics Board (JAC). And by 2026, the company forecasts an accumulated ebitda of more than US$ 10,000 million.

The reactivation that was presented as of this year coincided with three collective negotiations. First, Latam negotiated in advance with the Latam Inter-Company Pilots Union (SIEP), created in May 2021 and which brings together a large part of the pilots who have disciplinary powers from the company (evaluator instructors). He obtained a quick agreement, which did not mean substantially altering the 2020 adjustment, says Alcayaga.

In August, the turn of SPL, the company’s largest union, began, but things were different. The company made the same proposal to the SPL as to Inter Empresas, but was met with the refusal of the workers, who opted to go through a regulated process (with the right to strike). After four months of tough negotiations, on November 8, the SPL announced the first stoppage of activities in two decades. The following day, and a few hours after the start of the strike, the company representatives —led by the Director of Operations of Holding Latam and former general manager of AeroContinente, Rudy Stange— yielded to an important part of the workers’ requests and the conflict was turned off.

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Source: Elmostrador





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