Chile: Strike by aviation workers grounds departing flights

Chile: Strike by aviation workers grounds departing flights

SANTIAGO, Chile — A 24-hour strike by civil aviation workers in Chile grounded dozens of departing flights and affected thousands of passengers, officials said on Tuesday.

The strike began at midnight with nearly 4,000 workers demanding improved labour conditions and came just days before a Sept. 18 national holiday celebrating the country’s independence, a time when many people travel.

Hundreds of Chileans and tourists were stranded at the international airport in the capital, Santiago, and hundreds more stayed at home because they knew the strike was coming.

“Our flight was scheduled for today but it has been changed for Sept. 17. So we’re stuck here for two days,” said Iuri Farias, 42, a Brazilian tourist trying to return to Rio de Janeiro.

Director of Civil Aviation Maximiliano Larraechea said Tuesday the strike is affecting all of Chile’s airports and airfields and flights will not take off during the stoppage. Airline companies began rescheduling flights ahead of the strike, and only landings and emergency flights were being allowed.

Economy Minister Felipe Cespedes said the strike is illegal and called on workers to begin talks.

Workers “have all the opportunities to strike a constructive, positive dialogue, that doesn’t affect the functioning of a critical service affecting thousands of tourists and Chileans who were unable fly today.”