The nation’s first pilot strike ended last night after the Taoyuan Union of Pilots and China Airlines Ltd (中華航空) signed a collective agreement following 11 hours of negotiation over unresolved issues yesterday.
The two sides agreed that the company would have an open and transparent system to train and promote pilots.
Union members who participated in the strike would not be punished by the company, the agreement said.
Photo: Peter Lo, Taipei Times
The airline also promised to review the causes of the labor dispute, improve its corporate management culture and increase communication with the union, it said.
Flight safety bonuses are to be given to pilots, with the exact amount to be included in the agreement after separate negotiations to be held on Thursday next week.
Both sides also agreed to settle any future disputes through arbitration and mediation, rather than through a strike, over the three-and-a-half years that the collective agreement is valid.
Representatives of the union and airline signed the agreement at a news conference at 10pm that was attended by Vice Premier Chen Chi-mai (陳其邁), Taoyuan Mayor Cheng Wen-tsan (鄭文燦), Minister of Labor Hsu Ming-chun (許銘春), Minister of Transportation and Communications Lin Chia-lung (林佳龍) and China Airlines chairman Ho Nuan-hsuan (何煖軒).
Early yesterday, the airline said that more than 100 pilots had reclaimed their certificates and returned to work, even as the strike entered its seventh day.
Representatives of the union and airline management met at 10am for the fourth round of negotiations over the unresolved issues.
As yesterday was Valentine’s Day, Deputy Minister of Transportation and Communications Wang Kwo-tsai (王國材) said before the negotiations began that the relationship between the company’s workers and management is like that between lovers: They still love each other, even after all the fights.
As both sides had reached an agreement on changes to pilot deployment at negotiations early on Wednesday morning, representatives yesterday sought to tackle four unsettled issues: the recruitment of more local pilots; protecting union members from retribution by the company after the strike; changing managers who have contributed to a worsening relationship between pilots and management; and a guaranteed 13th month of salary.
As the four issues required an accurate interpretation of labor rights in relevant laws, the Ministry of Transportation and Communications invited Deputy Minister of Labor Liu Shih-hao (劉士豪) to help oversee the negotiations.
The union’s insistence that the airline hire only local pilots or give them employment priority over foreign pilots could cause the company to contravene the Immigration Act (移民法), which bans discrimination based on nationality, race, color, class and place of birth, Liu said, adding that such an infringement could result in a fine of NT$5,000 to NT$30,000.
After about two hours of talks, China Airlines agreed to research the possibility of not hiring captains from other nations for two years, but would continue to consider hiring foreign pilots to fill copilot vacancies.
It also promised to not increase hiring of captains from other nations unless there are special circumstances.
That agreement also stipulated that meetings to determine vacancies for pilots should be held in a fair, just and open manner.
Local pilots would also receive priority over foreigners during hiring if their level of experience is similar, but that rule would not apply to foreign pilots living in Taiwan.
China Airlines would be required to announce vacancies for captain and copilot positions before it convenes the meetings in March and September each year to compile a priority training list.
Pilots would also be allowed to check their evaluation grades.
The two sides agreed that if Taiwanese and foreign pilots have the same grade after evaluations, local pilots would be promoted first.
However, that rule would not apply to foreign pilots living in Taiwan.
However, the negotiations then stalled again when China Airlines strongly opposed the union’s demand that the company would not publicly declare that it would not threaten, pressure or retaliate against union members after the strike.
Benefits that the carrier promised to give through the negotiations with the union can only be enjoyed by union members, the union said.
The company’s representatives said that they were unable to acquiesce to such a demand, as it involves a crucial part of corporate management and would have to be decided by the airline’s board of directors.
The union’s right to hold strikes is protected by the Labor Union Act (工會法) and the Act for Settlement of Labor-Management Disputes (勞資爭議處理法), the company’s representatives said, adding that the union should notify its members that its current strike is legal and protected by the law, not the airline.
After four hours of closed-door negotiations, Wang announced that the two sides decided to settle all remaining issues before announcing the final results to the public.
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