Amid disputes over work hours, subsidies and where personnel are to clock in, the Taoyuan Flight Attendants Union yesterday announced that China Airlines (CAL) flight attendants would go on strike at midnight last night, demanding that the firm drop new requirements that flight attendants be required to report for work at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport instead of Taipei International Airport (Songshan airport).
The company last month imposed a new work-hour formula that the union has said would cut 80 minutes from the attendants’ daily working hours by requiring them to report for work at Taoyuan airport instead of Songshan airport, while halving the time allowed for them to complete post-flight duties.
The union said in a statement yesterday that even though the chairman of the China Airlines board had been replaced, they would proceed with the strike to show the new chairman that their determination to fight for their rights would not be diminished by a new leadership.
Photo: Yao Chieh-hsiu, Taipei Times
Following controversy over a legislative proposal to reduce the number of national holidays, the union is willing to “become the vanguard of workers in this battle, and tell capitalists and the state that Taiwan must say goodbye to the era of overwork and long hours,” the statement said.
The union asks for support from all of employees in Taiwan.
It is the first time in Taiwan’s history that flight attendants have taken industrial action.
Union members have refused to sign the consent form required by Article 84-1 of the Labor Standards Act (勞動基準法), which was designed to protect flight attendants or other workers whose hours do not fit the regular eight-hour working day described by the act.
A total of 2,548, or 96 percent, of 2,638 CAL workers in the union voted on Tuesday to strike after talks broke down on June 7 between CAL management and the union.
Ninety-nine percent, or 2,535, of the union members at the Tuesday meeting voted in favor of the strike, while nine voted against it, three cast invalid ballots and one did not vote, the union said.
CAL said in a statement that the strike would not affect the flight carrying President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) and her entourage from Taiwan on her trip to Panama and Paraguay, which is to take off today.
The airline assured travelers that the company would help them switch flights or reschedule departure times if their flights are affected by the strike.
Processing fees would be waived if ticket-holders ask for a refund over canceled flights, the airline said.
The company said its emergency response team would deploy all available personnel to arrange flight schedules to minimize the effects of the strike, adding that aviation safety and passengers’ interests remain its top priority.
“We will not give up any opportunity to negotiate with the flight attendants’ union tonight [yesterday],” the airline said.
“We also ask that our colleagues [the flight attendants] stay calm and keep the interests of passengers in mind,” it added.
“The strike is only a means, and the end is for both management and employees to negotiate,” the airline said.
Airline president Chang Yu-hern (張有恒) said last night that eight flights scheduled to fly to Japan, Hong Kong and Manila today would be canceled, affecting about 1,590 passengers, and the airline would assist with transferring passengers to other flights or offering refund coupons.
Additional reporting by CNA
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