Sun, May 26, 2019 - Page 2 News List

EVA Air, union talks hampered by mistrust

STAGNANT:While the two sides agreed to meet again on Wednesday, the union has collected votes from 80 percent of its EVA members on whether they want to strike

Staff writer, with CNA

EVA Airways and the Taoyuan Flight Attendants’ Union on Friday failed to reach common ground during talks over flight attendant pay and work hours, as well as corporate governance issues, with both sides accusing each other of acting in bad faith.

After the meeting, which was delayed by two hours due to squabbling over whether it should be broadcast live, the union said the airline addressed few of its demands.

The management’s proposals were basically the same as those discussed during the previous round of negotiations last month, which broke down and prompted a vote on whether EVA flight attendants should go on strike, a union representative said.

Despite the disappointing outcome, the two sides agreed to meet again on Wednesday.

EVA refused to raise flight attendants overseas allowances from NT$90 per hour to NT$150 per hour, union deputy secretary-general Chou Sheng-kai (周聖凱) said.

The airline was also reluctant to adjust the operations of nine round-trip flights that the union sees as “overwork flights,” Chou said.

The flight duty period on those flights often exceeds 12 hours, the maximum allowed in a single shift under the Labor Standards Act (勞動基準法), he said, adding that the union wants flight attendants to have more rest.

To avoid fatigue, the union is asking that flight crews work only one way on those routes and rest overnight rather than working both legs of a round-trip flight on the same day.

Among the routes cited were flights connecting Taiwan to Tokyo, Phnom Penh, Ho Chi Minh City, Beijing, Harbin, Shenyang and Hohhot, but EVA Airways was only willing to show flexibility on some flights, Chou said.

The union is mostly concerned about flights between Taiwan and Tokyo, Beijing and Phnom Penh because they account for more than half of the overwork flights, it has said previously.

EVA did agree to try the union’s proposal on a trial basis for one of the flights between Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport and Tokyo’s Narita International Airport and one between Taoyuan and Beijing, Chou said, adding that it would be subject to seasonal considerations.

For flights to and from Phnom Penh, the carrier agreed that flight attendants could voluntarily choose to fly only that route during a particular month in exchange for more days off.

“We had already tentatively agreed on those particular flights in our April meeting — a result that was far from our expectations, which is why we brought the whole package to the table again,” he said.

On corporate governance, EVA agreed that there could be union representatives included on its committee that evaluates employee performance, but it refused to grant them the right to participate in discussions or vote, Chou said.

EVA also did not accept the union’s appeal to introduce either an independent director or similar positions to better protect labor rights, he said.

EVA Air said in a statement that most employee benefits being challenged by the union are already better than at other airlines.

It said it is willing to consider giving flight attendants greater benefits, but refused the “no free ride” proposal by the union, saying that it would result in unequal treatment for flight attendants.

The “no free ride” proposal refers to the union’s demand that only union members be given the higher hourly overseas allowances they want, while non-union members would not be eligible.

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