Photo via Aviones en Ezeiza

The tense relationship between Aerolíneas Argentinas’ executives and unions is about to reach a boiling point and, according to press reports, could soon end in yet another strike throughout the country’s airports.

So if you have to travel soon, you know the drill. Get to the airport 18 hours before your flight (OK, that may be a bit of an exaggeration), take a sleeping bag, your laptop fully charged and enough food for a couple of meals — you could be there for a while. This time, unions would cease to work because they believe the last salary increase offer put forward by authorities last Friday does not meet their expectations.

Authorities, predictably, disagree with this point of view. In a letter released today, the head of Aerolíneas, Isela Constantini, called on unions to “analyze the discussed proposal because we believe it’s a reasonable offer considering the situation the country is going through and the companies’ possibilities.” The state-run company has offered the following:

  • A 35 percent raise on workers’ final salary for the next 11 months. The fact that the offer was on the final salary means it wouldn’t include deductions from contributions such as retirement and health insurance, meaning the net increase in the salary would be of 40 percent.
  • The possibility of discussing the payment of a year-end bonus of at least AR$2,000, in accordance to the government-sponsored agreement between the CGT umbrella unions and the main business leaders last week.
  • Pilots who due to their high salary are not exempt from paying the income tax on the aguinaldo — the additional half salary workers get every June and December, in accordance to labor law — due to the government’s decision of exempting workers who earn less than AR $50,000 would not have to pay the tax either.
Isela Constantini will be Aerolíneas Argentinas' new CEO
Isela Constantini will be Aerolíneas Argentinas’ new CEO

“The offer is above the percentages agreed to by most collective wage negotiations from other industries and productive sectors around the country: it significantly improves the agreements from last year,” Constantini said. She added that the offer was particularly generous considering inflation expectations for next year are close to 17 percent.

Constantini is certainly not happy about the current situation: “The threats put forward in the meeting regarding potential strikes … endanger the possibility of working together.”

So, if you have to fly in the next hours or days, we’d suggest you illegally download a couple of more movies. Just in case.