Ministry of Labor fines airlines for overworking staff

By Lii Wen  /  Staff reporter

Tue, Feb 17, 2015 - Page 4

Nine airlines have been fined for violating labor regulations since early this month after the Ministry of Labor launched a round of inspections directed at protecting the working conditions of flight personnel.

According to a statement issued by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, TransAsia and China Airlines were fined for violating labor regulations capping working hours at 12 per day.

The ministry launched inspections of the nation’s airlines following the crash of TransAsia Airways Flight GE235 on Feb. 4, which prompted questions about the working hours of the flight personnel and whether they were exhausted from overwork.

Out of a total of 15 airlines in the nation, nine companies offer passenger flights and the remaining six specialize in cargo transport or other services.

Other airlines were fined for violations such as failing to provide employee attendance records or failure to hold labor-management meetings.

The companies have been subject to fines between NT$20,000 to NT$300,000 by local labor departments around the nation, the ministry said.

The ministry announced it would soon conduct further labor inspections of the 34 foreign airline companies with operations in Taiwan.

Increased labor inspections of transportation and retail industries are set to take place during the Lunar New Year holiday, which begins on Thursday, the administration said.

The working conditions of flight personnel received significant media attention after China Airlines employees launched a string of protests over the size of their year-end bonuses and accused the company of forcing them to endure long hours and harsh working conditions.

The issue received heightened media scrutiny after the TransAsia crash, when it was revealed that the flight’s pilot had already flown to Kinmen once on the same day.

In response, China Airlines said that working hours for the aviation industry often exceed limits as a result of long overseas flights, adding that the company offers its employees NT$1,000 in compensation for hours worked in excess of the 12-hour cap.

TransAsia airlines said the company complied with standards set by the Civic Aeronautics Administration, adding that the ministry’s inspections employed different calculation methods from those set by the company.

Additional reporting by CNA