The International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) reports concerns from passengers scheduled to fly on LAN and TAM flights due to a strike in Peru scheduled for June 26th. Unions report that more than 200 mechanics – over 70 percent of all LAN Peru mechanics – will not be certifying aircraft during the strike, which is expected to affect operations across Latin America, including during the World Cup.
LAN Peru aviation mechanics are responsible for the security of the flights of LAN and TAM Airlines (the LATAM Airline Group), and their function is fundamental to the maintenance of the aircraft and the safety of flights.
On June 26th and 27th a strike is likely to take place, called by the SITALANPE trade union, which represents 70 per cent of all Lan Peru mechanics. The strike is expected to result in cancellations and delays across the region.
“We are the ones that review the planes each time that they land and if we do not sign the logbook of the aircraft, they do not leave,” said Juan Carlos Talavera, a LAN Peru aviation mechanic and press secretary of SITALANPE. “Without our approval, no plane will be able to fly and therefore the whole company will stop.”
Lima, Peru is the central hub for maintenance work for the LATAM airline network. The Peruvian mechanics maintain the cargo and passenger aircraft for LAN Argentina, LAN Chile, LAN Ecuador, LAN Peru, and TAM and LAN Cargo.
“The IAM stands firmly with our ITF-affiliated aviation technician and flight attendant sisters and brothers in their struggle to be treated fairly and without discrimination,” said General Vice President and ITF Executive Board member Sito Pantoja. “The LATAM network should stop stonewalling and discriminating against these workers and offer them what’s fair.”
“Our mechanics’ union is supporting the Peruvian workers and is ready to express its solidarity and support,” said Dario Castillo Alfaro, the leader of the LAN Chile mechanics’ union. “As Chileans, we are depending on our Peruvian co-workers to protect the aviation sector in Latin America from the kind of cost cutting in operations that threatens the security of our passengers. As LAN and TAM workers we know that on behalf of passengers and aviation workers, it is our obligation to inform customers of potential problems and risks. The future of aviation in South America is being threatened by the company’s refusal to negotiate in Peru and Argentina.”
LAN Peru aviation mechanics say they have not received a salary increase in over 10 years and are paid half of what Chileans and Argentineans receive for doing the same work in the same company. Rather than resolve this problem the company has terminated seven mechanics, given forced leave to their most experienced technicians and hired inexperienced temporary mechanics.
Meanwhile, flight attendants at LAN Argentina have been working without a legal collective bargaining agreement since the start of the Argentinean subsidiary in 2005. Argentinian aviation workers report that, prior to the 2014 World Cup, TAM Airlines fired pilots and cabin crews and cut routes in Brazil in order to increase profits. This has generated worries that they will not be prepared for the avalanche of visitors to Brazil. Some 80 percent of TAM’s management are reportedly new. Cabin crew members point out that if they do not have decent working conditions and adequate rest, their ability to carry out their vital safety functions may be impaired.
The company’s inability to provide a stable working environment could lead to unnecessary delays and cancellations of flights, and may even put the high standard of operational safety at risk.
LAN Peru is the central hub for mechanical work on LAN and TAM, while attendants from LAN Argentina fly daily to Miami, Punta Cana, San Paulo, Lima and Santiago. Many of the increased LAN and TAM flights to Brazil for the World Cup have been routed through Argentina.
View videos of concerned passengers here