Varig workers strikes after layoffs

Employees at Brazilian former flagship airline Varig went on strike to press demands for back pay after the embattled airline announced it was laying off 5,500 employees as part of a restructuring plan. Some 400 Varig ground workers at Sao Paulo’s Guarulhos International Airport launched the job action Friday, disrupting most of the airline’s flights.

Of these 400 workers, 300 were the first to receive layoff notices. The airline has promised to pay back wages to those that remain on staff but did not indicate what would happen with those who were losing their jobs.

On Saturday the strike was being partially observed at Sao Paulo’s and Rio de Janeiro’s international airports.

“They didn’t accept and are going on strike indefinitely until Varig deposits their back salaries. The flights are suspended,” said Sao Paulo ground workers’ union leader Uebio Jose da Silva, who expects more layoffs.