A protest by laid-off LATAM Airlines workers at Buenos Aires' metropolitan Aeroparque Jorge Newbery ended up in fistfights, beatings, chases, arrests, and struggles with the police.
The workers who had been fired from the airline were unsuccessfully demanding they would be reinstated at their jobs. After they entered the airport terminal, the took positions before the check-in counter where law enforcement officers poured in to restore normalcy.
“We want the Government to fulfill its commitment to work continuity,” demanded the demonstrators. “While LATAM continues to do business with the Argentine skies, thousands of aeronautical families remain jobless,” they claimed.
The demonstrators also pointed out that the Ministries of Labor and Transport had assumed a commitment regarding the continuity of their workplaces, which was “not being fulfilled” even when commercial aviation activity is reactivated to levels prior to the pandemic and the reactivation is with all its workers inside.
Latam ceased domestic operations over a year ago in Argentina stating that conditions were not in place to enable operations in a sustainable manner while it also warned about the impact of restrictions on the industry. Earlier this month, LATAM announced it would resume international flights from Aeroparque, Córdoba and Mendoza, to Chile, Brazil and Peru.
Union leader Martín Tomé insisted the company pretended nothing happened after over two years of conflict. The response we receive is violence and struggle, the labor leader explained. Tomé added the laid-off workers' active protest would stay up until a solution to the conflict was found and “the conflict is resolved.
Fellow union leader Eduardo Saab called on other aviation workers to join in on the cause of “three thousand families ... left in the street,” bluntly ignored by the airline.
With the support of groups from the Frente de Izquierda-Unidad (FIT-U), Tuesday's protests involved shoving with security forces.
“We have been complaining for almost 20 months, we are not going to get tired and we are going to continue fighting. Now in Latam they are checking flights as if nothing had happened while there were 1,700 families that were left on the street,” a laidoff LATAM worker was quoted by Infobae as saying.
LATAM Airlines had admitted through a statement that operations at Aeroparque Jorge Newbery may be affected and warned travelers to take additional precautions. The group reaffirms it has complied with all the legal and administrative procedures corresponding to the cessation of operations of LAN Argentina S.A, the statement went on. The group regrets the events that have occurred and ensures the safety of its staff and clients, he concluded.
Latam Airlines' Argentine subsidiary last year ceased all operations in the country and reportedly abode by all of the Labor Ministry's requirements for the termination of the employment of more than 1,700 workers.
With the resumption of international travel by other subsidiaries of the group the cycle of protests is set to restart, although it no longer is a local company but just another international carrier serving Aeroparque.
LATAM is the only foreign airline operating international flights at the Jorge Newbery Airport to Santiago de Chile and Sao Paulo, although Brazilian carrier Gol is to follow suit shortly.