Flight attendants of EVA Airways Corp (長榮航空) have secured the right to hold a labor strike based on the turnout rate for the vote, Minster of Transportation and Communications Lin Chia-lung (林佳龍) said yesterday, adding that the ministry has prepared an emergency response plan in the event of a strike.
Lin made the comments after inspecting the Freeway Bureau’s traffic control center in New Taipei City’s Pinglin (坪林) when asked to comment on a march by EVA flight attendants yesterday afternoon, at which they expressed their demands.
“We hope the union can peacefully express its demands so that the public understands what it is standing up for,” he said. “We also hope that the airline’s management can understand what the union is trying to tell them.”
Photo: Cheng Wei-chi, Taipei Times
The ministry has completed the second phase of an emergency response plan — it would ensure that passengers could switch to other carriers, he said, adding that the ministry instructed the airline not to cancel flights to Lienchiang County as UNI Air (立榮航空) — part of the same EVA Airways group — is the only operator on that route.
However, both the military and shipping firms would be placed on standby if a strike caused the cancelation of flights on the Taipei-Matsu route, he said.
Flight attendants and airline management have been locking horns over the “free-riders clause,” with the union demanding that the airline not extend union-negotiated benefits to non-union workers.
Many companies consider the clause as an infringement of a corporation’s right to manage itself, he said, adding that, as other companies have done, the airline could extend other benefits to union workers.
The airline management should prevent a strike from happening, and the union could still talk things out with the airline, Lin said, adding that the union is not obligated to go on strike just because it secured the right to do so.
Lin also announced that the Executive Yuan has approved a ministry proposal to allocate NT$166 million (US$5.27 million) toward new firefighting facilities for the Hsuehshan Tunnel on the Chiang Wei-shui Memorial Freeway (Freeway No. 5).
It would be the first time that money was budgeted from the Freeway Construction Fund to upgrade a freeway tunnel’s firefighting equipment, Lin said.
Hsuehshan Tunnel is 12.9km long and is the world’s largest twin-tunnel system, Lin said, adding that it is also the ninth-longest tunnel in the world.
It has been 13 years since the tunnel opened, so the tunnel’s firefighting equipment should also be upgraded, he said.
Traffic inside the tunnel has already exceeded capacity, Lin said, adding that traffic volume would only increase after the Suhua Highway improvement project is completed by the end of this year, facilitating traffic between northern and eastern Taiwan.
These issues have highlighted the necessity of addressing fire safety now, he said.
Despite getting approval from the Executive Yuan, the New Taipei City and Yilan County governments need to jointly submit an annual budget plan, Lin said, adding that allocated funds would be budgeted based on the annual plan.
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