More than 100 academics yesterday expressed support for China Airlines (CAL) pilots as their strike entered its sixth day, urging members of the public to view it in a positive light.
The strike has not only pushed the airline to improve flight safety by agreeing to cut pilots’ flight time, but also showcased how social progress can be made when workers resort to strikes, academics said in a joint statement.
“We believe the pilots’ demand for safer flight policies not only benefits the public, but offers them an opportunity to understand the progressive values embodied in strikes, as well as the ways in which such actions can promote more equal employer-staff relationships,” they said.
Members of the public should “view the strike in a positive light,” instead of “with hostility,” it said, adding that the media should not villainize union members.
The statement was signed by 15 academics when it was issued at noon yesterday. That number grew to more than 100 within a matter of hours.
Among the initial 15 academics who signed the statement were National Chengchi University sociology professor Liu Mei-chun (劉梅君), Shih Hsin University associate sociology professor Chen Cheng-liang (陳政亮), Soochow University associate law professor Hu Po-yen (胡博硯) and National Taiwan Normal University English professor Huang Han-yu (黃涵榆).
Despite having strong support from unions nationwide, the strike has been criticized by many travel agencies, certain China Airlines staff and some members of the public for the inconvenience it has caused travelers and for undermining the airline’s financial prospects.
Certain media outlets have also drawn attention to the strike being led by the Taoyuan Union of Pilots, which includes many pilots who work for EVA Airways, China Airlines’ main competitor in Taiwan.
No workers would prefer to go on strike unless it was necessary to improve their labor conditions, the academics said in the statement.
“Once an employee goes on strike, they immediately lose their income and risk retaliation from their employer,” they said.
Before the airline eventually agreed to reduce pilots’ flight time in negotiations earlier yesterday, the union had been making demands for half a year and voted to launch a strike as early as Aug. 7 last year, the academics said.
“The negotiation process made it clear that without resorting to a strike, pilots’ work conditions would not have improved,” they said.
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