WASHINGTON, DC – Today, the Teamsters expressed solidarity with trade unions in the ITF (International Transport Workers’ Federation) LATAM network, which represents 23,000 LATAM Airlines workers in seven countries.
The ITF LATAM network revealed this week that in a recent survey, 80 percent of LATAM maintenance technicians in Brazil, Peru, Paraguay and Colombia reported having witnessed increasing numbers of incidents or problems with aircraft.
The reports from this survey are even more important at a time when the company is operating at full capacity during the Olympic Games in Brazil, increasing traffic by more than 300 additional flights. LATAM Airlines is the largest airline in South America and includes the LAN and TAM Airline brands.
In that same survey, 34 percent of technicians reported having been “pressured to finish work at the expense of quality and/or safety” on flights, and 23 percent reported experiencing increasing “fatigue and tiredness due to the large number of working hours.” According to figures reported by LATAM Airlines, 996 people working in maintenance were laid off over the last 12 months.
“I am deeply concern for passengers and flight crew on LAN and TAM flights,” said Capt. David Bourne, Director of the Teamsters Airline Division. “It is very important for workers to speak up publically about conditions that could potentially affect flight safety.”
The survey was carried out at the request of the trade unions of aeronautical technicians in the ITF LATAM network, with the aim of identifying the areas of greatest impact produced by the changes in procedures, new programs and budget cuts that LATAM Airlines is implementing. These cuts have led to workers repeatedly trying to warn the company and its chief executive, Enrique Cueto. The trade unions sent a letter asking for a meeting to explain their concerns. To date, there has been no response.
Among the most worrying survey results, workers in charge of the technical procedures for the fleet of LATAM Airlines believe that the loss of qualified personnel generates pressure on their workload — 26 percent of workers stated that in the last three years they have seen “delays and cancellations of flights due to lack of licensed technicians and sufficient aeronautical experience.”