Minister of Labor Hsu Ming-chun (許銘春) yesterday said that her ministry is against a proposal by the Ministry of Transportation and Communications (MOTC) to introduce regulations requiring a notice period for aviation-related strikes.
Hsu had initially been equivocal about her stance on the MOTC’s proposal, which calls for a rule requiring a notice period before employees in the aviation industry can go on strike.
In an interview with the Chinese-language newspaper Commercial Times (工商時報) that was published on Monday, Hsu said that her ministry was against adding the rule to the Act for Settlement of Labor-Management Disputes (勞資爭議處理法).
Photo: Chu Pei-hsiung, Taipei Times
However, it “could be feasible” for the MOTC to add the rule to the Civil Aviation Act (民用航空法), which governs the aviation industry, she added.
When asked by Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Chiang Wan-an (蔣萬安) about whether she supports the MOTC’s proposal at a question-and-answer session at the Legislative Yuan, Hsu said her ministry “respects” it.
The proposal was made with the aim of protecting consumers’ rights and is “worthy of discussion,” she said.
However, the labor ministry is “absolutely opposed” to adding a requirement for a strike notice period to the Act for Settlement of Labor-Management Disputes, she said, adding that the act already has many requirements that make carrying out a legal strike difficult.
A union can only launch a strike after government mediation fails to resolve a labor dispute and at least half of its members have voted in favor of a strike, she said.
After Chiang pushed for a clear answer on her stance, Hsu said that she was against it.
“From the Ministry of Labor’s point of view of protecting workers’ right to strike, I would of course be against that proposal,” she said.
Chiang said that the labor ministry should make it clear that it is opposed to adding a notice period to the Civil Aviation Act, because that would restrict workers’ right to strike.
Although the requirement would only apply to the aviation industry, it could set a questionable precedent for other industries, he said.
“If other industries follow suit, current mechanisms for dealing with labor disputes in the Act for Settlement of Labor-Management Disputes would be superseded and undermined,” Chiang added.
Last month’s strike by China Airlines pilots, which prompted the proposal, had undergone a series of legal procedures that should have prepared people for the strike, he said.
After a government mediation failed to resolve the dispute between the Taoyuan Union of Pilots and the airline in April last year, the union voted in favor of a strike in August, Chiang said.
Before the strike began on Feb. 8, it had been clear that a strike would take place during the Lunar New Year holiday, he said.
The strike, which lasted seven days, caused 214 flights to be canceled, affecting nearly 50,000 passengers, and resulted in a combined loss of NT$500 million (US$16.22 million at the current exchange rate) for the airline.
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