Colombia: Avianca Pilot Strike Continues After Talks Collapse

The Avianca pilot strike continues as the largest pilots union could not reach an agreement with the Labor Ministry and the airline. Talks between the sides collapsed after they could not reach an agreement on the wages and benefits for the pilots.

The collapse in talks extends the pilot strike, which has already left many passengers stranded. The strike began a week ago when talks with the Labor Ministry ended without an agreement. ACDAC, which represents more than half of the Avianca pilots in the country, proposed a wage increase and other benefits but the airline had different proposals.

The union did not accept its proposal of a 12.75 percent wage increase, according to the airline. The union says the airline withdrew the proposal without giving it time to discuss it with the others.

Avianca, one of the biggest airlines in Latin America, has asked Colombian courts to take action and declare the pilot strike illegal. The strike began on September 20 and if it is declared illegal by court, the airline could fire the employees or tell them to return. The airline says the strike was only approved by the pilots being represented by the union and not all of its employees.

The airline has suspended ticket sales and says the proposals by the union are too much. A statement from Avianca’s president said the demands included a 60 percent wage increase and a number of benefits. He added that the demands exceed the limits of the company and would cost around $274 million per year. The union says the agreements reached during the talks were changed and that the airline decided to withdraw its proposal.

The union represents more than 700 of the 1,300 pilots working for the airline. The pilot strike is now a week old and a solution appears to be far away as talks recently collapsed.