An Aerolineas Argentinas' workers strike on Monday has left 40,000 passengers stranded. Photo by Epa/David Fernandez
Nov. 26 (UPI) -- A strike by pilots and other workers of Aerolineas Argentinas forced the government-run company that is the country's biggest airline to ground 371 flights Monday, leaving 40,000 passengers stranded.
Four unions representing pilots, ground personnel and technicians called the one-day strike to demand automatic salary adjustments to compensate for inflation and currency depreciation, La Nacion newspaper reported Monday.
Aerolineas Argentinas said Friday that it was canceling all 371 flights for Monday, said in a statement. It added it was not sure when the stoppage will end.
"Trade unions have informed that the industrial action will begin on Monday at 0:00, but they have not decided when it is going to end. However, mass media has suggested that it will be a 24 hour strike," the company said.
"The company is trying to prevent confusion and problems for passengers, as was the situation on Thursday 8, when trade unions held over 30,000 passengers hostage for 11 hours," it added. Flights will be rescheduled, it said.
In addition, because of another strike for Tuesday called by an umbrella organization that groups all transportation workers unions named the Argentine Confederation of Transportation Workers, all travel in buses, trains, subway and airlines as well as cargo movement will stop on Tuesday between 4:00 a.m. and 7:00 a.m. local time, La Nacion said.
The Tuesday strike covers several demands including pension increases and tax changes that affect workers in the industry.
Transportation Minister Guillermo Dietrich said that the talks between worker and unions gridlocked because workers are unwilling to discuss productivity issues, according to Clarin newspaper.
The government's Transportation ministry released a study during the weekend saying that Argentine airline pilots flight fewer hours per day and fewer days per month compared with peers in other Latin American countries.
The airline is less efficient than Latin American peers when it comes to workers per airplane, as well as workers per number of passengers transported, the ministry said.
Argentina is the biggest Spanish speaking country in the world. The country has a 44 million population, of which some 17 million live in the province of Buenos Aires.
According to a September report in Argentina Bae Negocios, Argentina's currency depreciation against the dollar was the biggest worldwide as of that time, trailed by that of the Turkish currency.
Argentina's President Mauricio Macri earlier this year increased taxes and cut government spending by closing 13 ministries in a bid to put his country in a better position to meet debt.
Macri became president in 2015, and inherited a very complicated economic situation that included foreign exchange controls. He ended the currency controls in December of that year.
Former Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner had installed currency exchange controls in 2011 that attempted to fix the exchange rate. This created a parallel market and distorted the economy.