April 28, 2018 / 12:35 AM / a month ago

LATAM Airlines crew union cannot end strike yet-company

SANTIAGO, April 27 (Reuters) - A strike by cabin workers for a unit of Chile-based LATAM Airlines continued for the 18th day on Friday despite the union’s attempt to end it, LATAM said.

Chile’s government notified the company that the union’s decision to unilaterally terminate its strike did not comply with labor laws passed last year, LATAM said late on Friday.

“The company is legally unable to accept the end of the strike,” LATAM said in a statement, adding that the strike “maintained the same, current conditions.”

The work stoppage by the 1,000-member Cabin Crew Union of LAN Express, a LATAM subsidiary, has led to the cancellation of nearly 2,000 flights and affected some 350,000 passengers.

The union’s announcement on Thursday that it had given up on reaching a deal for a new collective labor contract after more than two months of negotiations had cheered investors.

Shares of LATAM closed 0.69 percent higher on the Santiago Stock Exchange on Friday.

The union said the company had recently taken a hard line on talks and the union had decided to accept a previous offer by the company.

But Chile’s Labor Directorate said the union could not do so because an absolute majority of its members had voted to reject the company’s March 23 offer, according to LATAM.

LATAM added that the union could only end the strike if workers decided to voluntarily and individually return to work or the union board ended the strike in a different way.

A spokesman for the union called the situation “unusual” and said it was evaluating next steps to ensure workers’ rights were protected.

The Labor Directorate said the union would have five days to respond to its notification, according to a copy of it published on the website of local financial newspaper Pulso.

LATAM said its cancellations of flights through May 2 would remain in place, but added that no flights after May 3 had been rescheduled. (Reporting By Felipe Iturrieta; Writing By Mitra Taj; Editing by Sandra Maler)

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