Tue, Feb 12, 2019 - Page 1 News List

Pilots continue strike as talks break down; 28 flights canceled

Staff writer, with CNA

Pilots from China Airlines Ltd (CAL, 中華航空) remain on strike after the second round of negotiations between the pilots’ union and the airline yesterday again failed to reach a consensus on the issue of overwork, according to the Taoyuan Union of Pilots.

There was almost no common ground between the management and workers, union board director Chen Pei-pei (陳蓓蓓) said after four hours of talks mediated by the Ministry of Transportation and Communications.

“I was very surprised that CAL did not bring any new proposals to the table. They seemed to be just repeating the conclusions of our last meeting,” Chen said.

“We compromised on four points, but the airline did not make any changes to its positions,” she said.

China Airlines President Hsieh Shih-chien (謝世謙) said the company extended an olive branch by agreeing to schedule three crew members on red-eye flights of more than seven hours, but the offer was not accepted by the union.

China Airlines said it was confused that after the first round of talks, it met the key demands proposed by the union — essentially four pilots for flights of over 12 hours and three pilots for those of over eight hours — but the union kept bringing up new demands, making further concessions impossible.

Deputy Minister of Transportation and Communications Wang Kwo-tsai (王國材), the ministry's point man in the labor dispute, was hoping for a better result.

“I was very disappointed with the outcome, and I hope both sides can calm down and come up with better solutions,” Wang said.

The main issue separating China Airlines and its pilots is work hours on regional flights and how many hours constitute “overwork.”

The first round of negotiations last week broke down because the airline insisted it would only schedule three flight crew members on flights of over eight hours, while the pilots were asking for three pilots on flights of over seven hours.

Chen said the union yesterday agreed to the eight-hour threshold for three pilots, but was still demanding a seven-hour threshold for pilots flying multi-sector cargo flights.

Regional flights account for 40 percent of the airline's schedule and take eight hours on average for a round trip.

Wang yesterday announced that China Airlines passengers whose trips were disrupted by the pilots’ strike and who were not traveling as part of a tour group would receive US$250 compensation each.

China Airlines was previously only willing to offer independent travelers US$100 as compensation for the inconvenience.

Travelers in tour groups would be compensated based on the amount reported by their travel agency, he said.

At the Grand Hotel in Taipei yesterday, President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) spoke about the labor dispute before addressing Taiwanese businesspeople based in China, saying that the government has been monitoring developments closely.

“We hope that both sides can sit down, and appeal to reason and flexibility during the negotiations,” she said.

The airline canceled 28 flights today, according to the latest flight information on its official Web site.

The 28 canceled flights include two flights from Taipei to Sydney and two round-trips between Taipei and Hong Kong, as well as three inbound flights from Vienna to Taipei, from Sydney to Taipei and from Osaka to Kaohsiung, the Web site showed.

For a complete list of China Airlines cancelations, visit www.china-airlines.com/au/en/discover/news/press-release/ announcement.

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