As a strike by China Airlines (CAL) pilots continued for a second day yesterday, several labor unions spoke out in support of them.
The strike, led by the Taoyuan Union of Pilots, has caused more than 20 flights to be canceled and a number of flights to be delayed.
The union said the pilots went on strike because, as of Thursday afternoon, China Airlines had failed to agree to the union’s five demands, including improving “fatigue flights” by adding a fourth pilot on flights longer than 12 hours.
Photo by Chu Pei-hsiung, Taipei Times
In a letter to the public, the pilots said: “We are very sorry, but we have been forced to go on strike as a last-ditch effort... Please support us so that we can be alert and focused as we ensure the complete safety of each passenger on every flight.”
“We are not machines. We are only flesh and blood, and we feel tired after long hours of work,” the pilots said, also citing concern over the risks of piloting when too tired.
Eleven unions, including the Taiwan Railway Union, Taiwan Postal Workers’ Union, Taiwan Radical Nurses’ Union and Dispatched Workers Union, issued a joint statement on Friday in support of the strike.
The pilots’ union, like many labor unions, has been smeared while fighting for workers’ rights, but it had followed procedures by holding a vote before the strike, the statement said.
The strike showed that unions have the right to stand up for workers, it added.
The pilots’ demand for additional pilots to counter the fatigue of longer flights would improve working conditions and ensure passenger safety, but China Airlines refused to increase its labor costs, the unions said, adding that the airline had not learned from the deadly derailment of a Puyuma Express train last year.
The Taoyuan Flight Attendants Union also issued a statement, saying that under the leadership of chairman Ho Nuan-hsuan (何煖軒), the airline had forced the pilots to plan two strikes within six months.
Since Ho had become CAL chairman, the airline contravened the Labor Standards Act (勞動基準法) and the Occupational Safety and Health Act (職業安全衛生法) as many as 33 times in 30 months, the union said.
The union demanded that Ho be removed, saying that he had soured employer-employee relations at the company.
The Taiwan Higher Education Union, Taipei Doctors Union, Sales Worker Union and Taiwan Media Workers Union also issued statements in solidarity with the striking pilots.
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