Sat, Jan 14, 2006 - Page 10 News List

Taiwan Airport Service staff plan New Year strike

TERRIBLE TIMING?330 of the ground service provider's Kaohsiung employees will most likely go on strike from Jan. 28 for an indefinite period

By Jessie Ho  /  STAFF REPORTER

Taiwan Airport Service Co (台灣航勤), a major ground service provider for domestic airports, stressed yesterday that passengers would not be affected by a strike that could be called by its union in Kaohsiung on Lunar New Year's Eve.

A 330-member strong union of Taiwan Airport Service employees working at Kaohsiung International Airport voted on Thursday in favor of going on strike for an indeterminate period from Jan. 28 due to a dispute over salaries.

The strike is timed to take place during one of the busiest periods for air traffic in Taiwan. According to statistics from the Civil Aeronautics Administration, on average, over 22,000 passengers board domestic or international flights from Kaohsiung International Airport each day during the Lunar New Year holidays.

negotiating

"We are still negotiating with the union and also making back-up plans should the dispute not be resolved," Wang Shih-chiang (汪世強), manager of Taiwan Airport Service's Kaohsiung division, said in a phone interview yesterday.

Taiwan Airport Service provides ground services -- luggage handling, ramp services and shuttle bus operation, amongst others -- to all domestic and international airlines operating in Taiwan apart from EVA Airways Corp (長榮航空) and its subsidiary Uni Airways Corp (立榮航空) which have their own ground service crews.

Should the strike take place, Taiwan Airport Service will transfer some of its staff from Taipei, Tainan and Taichung airports to support its Kaohsiung operations, Wang said, adding that the company is also training its reserve employees to help reduce the impact of the potential strike.

salary structure

The dispute was triggered by a change of salary structure. Taiwan Airport Service agreed in 1999 to offer 14 month salaries, including basic pay and a bonus of NT$6,000 per month, to its employees in Kaohsiung. But the company elected to convert the extra two months of pay into year-end bonuses in 2000, and awarded the bonuses on a selective basis.

The labor union has been negotiating with the company's administrators for years, but no agreement has been reached.

Wang said the salary structure revision was decided upon by major company shareholders and that top company officials were negotiating with the shareholders on the issue.

Taiwan Airport Service is 47.35 percent owned by China Airlines Ltd (華航), the nation's largest carrier, while domestic carriers Far Eastern Air (遠東航空) and TransAsia Airways (復興航空) hold a 20 percent and 17 percent stake respectively.

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