Wed, Aug 08, 2018 - Page 1 News List

Pilots’ union votes in favor of a strike

NEGOTIATIONS?The union said it has not set a date for the strike as it is still open to talks with the nation’s two major airlines on improving work conditions for members

By Shelley Shan  /  Staff reporter

Members of the Taoyuan Union of Pilots, together with allied labor groups, at a meeting at the end of June announce their plan to go on strike.

Photo: Lee Ya-wen, Taipei Times

The Taoyuan Union of Pilots yesterday said it has secured the vote to organize a labor strike, adding that it would announce on Aug. 20 when the strike would take place if China Airlines (CAL, 中華航空) and EVA Airways (EVA,長榮航空) continue to refuse to negotiate with it.

The union held a vote from July 16 to Monday, with 1,212 of its 1,426 members participating. A total of 1,187 members voted to go on strike: 731 China Airlines pilots, 454 EVA Airways pilots and 2 from other airlines.

“We hope that this [vote for a strike] would encourage the airlines to improve the work environment for their employees, such as making a definite promise that pilots would not have to risk their lives by flying on typhoon days,” union chairwoman Lee Hsin-yen (李信燕) said. “We are open for negotiations with the airlines before the end of this month.”

The union will resort to a strike if the two carriers continue to ignore and slander the pilots, as well as disregard the safety of passengers, she added.

CAL last week filed an injunction with a district court seeking to ban the union from holding a strike. This shows that the company is playing a two-faced strategy, claiming that it is willing to negotiate with the union while arguing that the union does have not the right to strike, the union said.

The union has the right to hold strikes in accordance with regulations in the Labor Union Act (工會法), it said, adding that the injunction would not affect its plan.

Asked whether the labor strike would disrupt President Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) visit to Paraguay next week, as well as people planning to travel during the Mid-Autumn Festival holiday next month, Lee said it would depend on whether the airlines are willing to engage in negotiations.

Lee reiterated that members of the public would have sufficient time to react to a strike, but did not specify how many days in advance the public would be given warning.

The union has not decided if CAL and EVA pilots would hold simultaneous strikes or on different days, union board director Chen Hsiang-lin (陳祥麟) said, adding that it would depend on the progress of labor negotiations.

Minister of Transportation and Communications Wu Hong-mo (吳宏謀) expressed hope that the dispute would end peacefully.

“We hope that airlines can expedite communication with their employees on the condition of preserving consumers’ interests and aviation safety to ensure a peaceful end to this dispute,” Wu told a news conference.

China Airlines had been told to refrain from using measures such as court injunctions, which only poison its relations with union members, he added.

Deputy Minister of Transportation and Communications Wang Kwo-tsai (王國材) said that both airlines, as well as Taoyuan International Airport Corp (桃園國際機場公司), have stipulated contingency plans to cope with the possible impact of a strike during the Mid-Autumn Festival holiday from Sept. 22 to Sept. 24.

Negotiations between the airlines and union members in the past few months have helped winnow down the union’s demands to a few unresolved issues, he said, adding that it is the Ministry of Transportation and Communications’ hope that it would not have to implement the plans.

CAL said the union has presented 28 requests to the company, adding that both sides have reached a consensus on some of them.

EVA said the union has presented 16 requests for negotiations.

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