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A LATAM Brasil A320 landing in São Paulo/Congonhas Airport. (Photo: AirlineGeeks | João Machado)

With Permanent Wage Reductions Rejected By Workforce, LATAM Brasil Starts Layoffs

As the economic effects and the public health crisis of the coronavirus pandemic continue to harm international demand, LATAM Brasil, Brazil’s second-largest airline before 2020, has announced it will start to lay off a part of its cabin workforce. According to G1, the number of employees fired will start from 2,700, which represents 28% of LATAM’s cabin crew employees, as per figures given by the National Union of Aeronauts (SNA), which represents the workers.

The announcement comes after negotiations between the airline, workers and unions came to an end with no agreement set. On Friday, workers refused to keep discussions with the airline going, which ultimately aimed to change the way wages are calculated. Effectively, the change would permanently reduce salaries.

According to the airline, now a voluntary layoff plan will be launched, with a deadline on Aug. 4. After this process is done, layoffs will follow. The desire to permanently reduce wages comes from the airline already paying a salary that is “between 20% and 30% higher” than its competitors, according to Jerome Cadier, LATAM Brasil’s CEO.

“LATAM is older, it pays in another way. [I] pay per kilometer [flown], not per hour”, explained Cadier to O Estado de São Paulo. “GOL [Airlines] and Azul [Brazilian Airlines] were born in the last two decades, so they already were born with a much more aggressive paying method, much more competitive.”

Both Azul and GOL reached agreements with their cabin workforces and with SNA, reducing wages and the average workload for 18 months, but compromising not to involuntarily lay off workers during this period. LATAM Brasil, however, was keen in its goal to reduce pays permanently.

An “Outrageous, Unnecessary and Abusive” Proposal

Ondino Dutra, President of the SNA, was vocal about LATAM’s intentions from the start of negotiations, even asking Cadier to resign in one of his live streams with workers.

“LATAM achieved a historic fact, because it made even that [worker] who will be laid off to vote against [the discussions continuity vote], because he understands it is outrageous, unnecessary and abusive,” stated Dutra to FolhaPress.

According to Dutra, a temporary reduction of wages would be accepted by the workforce, but not a permanent one.

“[A] permanent reduction of salaries without workload reductions and no guarantee of employment is illegal, the CLT [Consolidation of Labor Laws, the Brazilian legislation that regulates work relations] does not allow,” Dutra said. According to the SNA, the proposal could bring wages down by 60%, a number the airline denied.

The SNA, according Poder360, has now requested a hearing with the Superior Labor Court to try to reverse LATAM Brasil’s decision. FolhaPress, on the other hand, says the Union intends to “clarify” the layoff proceedings once a collective labor agreement “estabilishes a number of criteria for terminations.”

João Machado
João Machado
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