Sun, Feb 10, 2019 - Page 1 News List

Union slams CAL ahead of negotiations

PILOTS’ STRIKE:The union’s first demand of alleviating “fatigue flights” had not been addressed nearly two hours into the meeting, which carried on into the night

By Hsiao Yu-hsin, Chen Yi-chia and Jake Chung  /  Staff reporters, with staff writer

Members of the Taoyuan Union of Pilots rally yesterday in front of the Ministry of Transportation and Communications in Taipei.

Photo: Chen Yi-chia, Taipei Times

China Airlines Ltd (CAL, 中華航空) yesterday was criticized by the Taoyuan Union of Pilots for undermining flight safety to maintain its proclaimed 90 percent flight capacity, as the strike by CAL pilots continued for a second day.

A mediation meeting at the Ministry of Transportation and Communications (MOTC) in Taipei, attended by representatives from the union, CAL, the MOTC, the Ministry of Labor, the Civil Aeronautics Administration and the Taoyuan Department of Labor began at 3pm.

The discussions were sluggish from the start, and participants had not even addressed the union’s first demand of aleviating “fatigue flights” — or flights of more than 12 hours — almost two hours into the meeting.

Negotiations were continuing as of press time last night.

According to union chairwoman Lee Hsin-yen (李信燕), the union was informed by members working for China Airlines that the company had cut the number of pilots sent on three unnamed flights from four to three.

The union attended the negotiation despite the new information and informed the MOTC and the Civil Aeronautics Administration of the company’s actions, Lee said.

The union was saddened to hear that the company had made such arrangements, as they undercut flight safety, Lee said.

Lee declined to respond to reporters’ questions about which of the union’s five demands the airline must meet to for the strike to be called off, saying that the carrier should meet flight safety standards first.

When asked why the union demanded that China Airlines pilots be paid their year-end bonus in full, as is done by EVA Airways Corp (長榮航空), if the carrier’s statistics showed that its pilots earn more than their EVA peers, Lee said that salary rates at the two companies fluctuate, so they should not serve as a reference.

In response to allegations regarding flight safety, China Airlines stated that its allotted number of pilots per flight is greater than the legal number under the Aircraft Flight Operation Regulations (航空器飛航作業管理規則).

The company said that it is still observing regulations with its personnel arrangements, adding that pilots on long-distance flights take periodic breaks and the union’s claims of pilots being overworked are not true.

Prior to the meeting, Deputy Minister of Transportation and Communications Wang Kwo-tsai (王國材) said the union and the airline should focus on the company’s sustainable management as the most important consideration, regardless of what results the negotiation yields.

The ministry hopes that complaints of overwork would be discussed on a case-by-case basis and not bundled into a package, Wang said, adding that airports have varying capacities and facilities, so they should not be considered equal and governed by the same regulations.

Wang said he agreed with the union that China Airlines should make its promotion system more transparent, so that its pilots would know what to expect and work toward.

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