Fri, Oct 06, 2006 - Page 1 News List

Airport union in Kaohsiung calls off strike plans

CONSENSUS Last-minute concessions including the sacking of a management official and adjustments in wages convinced the union to drop the strike

By Ho Cheng-hsu and Jessie Ho  /  STAFF REPORTERS IN KAOHSIUNG AND TAIPEI

Ground staff belonging to the Taiwan Airport Service Co (台勤) union at Kaohsiung International Airport last night agreed to call off its planned strike today with the help of Council of Labor Affairs Deputy Chairman Guo Fang-yu (郭芳煜).

Management and labor finally signed an agreement at 8pm.

The 335 Kaohsiung union members of the ground service provider voted on Sept. 22 in favor of going on strike over the Mid-Autumn Festival owing to salary and management disputes.

Taiwan Airport Service agreed in 1999 to pay its employees in Kaohsiung annual bonuses amounting to two months' salary, as well as a bonus of NT$6,000 per month, but the company converted the extra two months of pay into year-end bonuses in 2000, and only awarded the bonuses to certain employees, union members said.

At one point yesterday afternoon, the union was ready to sign the agreement and call off the strike. However, word that Taiwan Airport Service vice president Hsieh Yi-wen (謝逸文) had allegedly threatened to fire union members if they go ahead with the strike upset the workers, who said they would not return to the negotiating table unless Hsieh resigned.

Guo invited both labor and company representatives to meet in Kaohsiung's Department of Labor in order to resolve the crisis.

China Airlines, a major stockholder in Taiwan Airport Service Co, also held a board meeting yesterday afternoon.

Upon hearing of the breakdown in negotiations, Philip Wei (魏幸雄), board chairman of Taiwan Airport Service Co, authorized the removal of Hsieh from his position.

Negotiations resumed late yesterday afternoon, and a consensus was reached around 8pm.

The labor agreement included an amended wage structure, the details of which would be worked out at a later date.

The union also demanded that a labor representative be appointed to the board and that the company not take punitive action against union members during labor disputes.

According to Weng Shu-chung (翁樹忠), a union official, communications were hampered by the fact that his negotiation partners were not given adequate authority by the company.

He apologized to the public for any undue stress caused by the strike threat.

Guo expressed satisfaction at the result of the negotiations, saying he hoped both parties could continue to communicate and build a better relationship.

Taiwan Airport Service rep-resents nearly 70 percent of ground staff at Kaohsiung International Airport, whose duties include luggage handling, ramp services, shuttle-bus operations, on-board meal delivery and cabin cleaning.

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