Chile unit of LATAM votes to go on strike, mediation pending
SANTIAGO, March 31 (Reuters) - The union representing cabin crew members of LATAM Airlines' Chilean unit rejected a labor deal presented by the company and voted to go on strike by April 6 if a deal was not reached by then, a union leader said on Tuesday.
The 881-member union at LAN Express, which mostly covers routes within Chile and also has some flights to other South American destinations, is seeking better salaries and working conditions.
LATAM Airlines, the region's largest carrier, and the union can now ask for government mediation before the April 6 deadline and avoid the potential strike.
Votes on whether to have a strike were still being counted on Tuesday, but nearly all of the more than 60 percent of votes cast by unionized workers representing LAN Express were in favor of it going ahead.
"Despite only part of the votes being counted so far, the strike is already approved," union general secretary Eric Arce told Reuters.
LATAM Airlines said negotiations were ongoing and it was open to dialogue.
"Our operations are functioning normally," it added.
News of the potential strike comes after LATAM Airlines said on Monday it was canceling a large number of domestic flights in Argentina as well as some international ones into and out of the country due to an upcoming general strike.
LATAM Airlines was formed in mid-2012 when Chile's flagship LAN took over Brazil's TAM. (Reporting by Felipe Iturrieta; Additional reporting and writing by Anthony Esposito; Editing by Ted Botha)
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