Fri, Jun 21, 2019 - Page 1 News List

EVA flight attendants commence strike

DISRUPTION:A total of 8,628 passengers were affected by 16 canceled international flights, the airline said, but 14 were unaffected, as were all its domestic passengers

By Lee Ya-wen, Kao Shih-ching and Shelley Shan  /  Staff reporters

Striking EVA Air flight attendants hold a news conference in Taipei yesterday.

Photo: Chien Jung-fong, Taipei Times

EVA Airways Corp (長榮航空) flight attendants yesterday went on strike after a round of employer-employee negotiations broke down, with more than 8,000 passengers expected to be affected by midnight.

The main sources of contention between the carrier and the Taoyuan Flight Attendants’ Union remained a proposal to raise the daily allowance for flight attendants and an appeal, dubbed the “free-rider clause,” by the union that non-union employees be barred from receiving benefits that the airline promises the union in negotiations.

EVA officials took a hard stance and refused to budge on the two items, issuing responses that were identical to those given two years ago when the union first raised the issues.

Citing the airline’s “unreasonable distribution” of revenue, union standing director Lee Ying (李瀅) said that EVA employees who have stuck with the airline through times of hardship, such as in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks on the US, and the 2008 to 2009 global economic crisis, have not been allowed to taste the fruits of the company’s steadily growing revenue over the past several years.

However, EVA president Clay Sun (孫嘉明) said that the airline has over the past few years been paying employees up to 16 times their monthly salary when including bonuses, adding that it has also been steadily raising their wages each year.

EVA flight attendants receive a larger daily allowance than their counterparts at China Airlines Ltd (中華航空), as EVA calculates from the time they sign in to the time they sign out of work, while China Airlines calculates based on flight hours, EVA cabin crew division deputy vice president Milly Fung (馮美莉) said.

The hourly rate for the daily allowance paid to EVA flight attendants, NT$90, is comparable with international standards, she said, asking union representatives on what their demand for a NT$150 hourly rate was based.

Since 2016, the airline has increased employees’ monthly salaries by NT$3,000 to NT$5,000, EVA human resources division deputy vice president Shine Hsu (許平) said.

If the airline approved the free-rider clause, it would be unfair to non-union employees, who would be paid less for doing the same work, which would negatively affect morale and flight safety, Hsu said.

The talks reached a deadlock after an hour and the union announced that it would begin the strike at 4pm.

Sun later said that the strike has caused the airline to cancel 16 international flights, but added that it would strive to mitigate the effects on passengers.

A total of 8,628 passengers were affected by the canceled international flights, EVA said, but added that 14 international flights were unaffected, as were 2,982 passengers on domestic flights.

As of press time last night, the airline said that it would cancel 26 inbound flights — including from Bangkok; Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam; Manila; Seoul; and Hong Kong to Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport; and from Guangzhou, China, to Kaohsiung — and 45 outbound flights.

“We cannot be sure of how many flight attendants will be on duty, but we will try to maintain 50 percent of all flights unchanged,” EVA operations management department deputy senior vice president Bryan Chang (張玉珩) told reporters.

EVA has about 4,600 flight attendants, of whom 2,949 on June 7 voted in favor of going on strike, the union said.

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