TAIPEI (The China Post/ANN) – The Lunar New Year strike of China Airlines (CAL) pilots has impacted the nation during the busiest time for air travels, despite expectations of the Ministry of Labor and the Ministry of Transportation and Communications regarding the “prestrike notification system” introduced after CAL flight attendants strike in 2016.
According to the Consumers’ Foundation, organizations need to come with a set of joint measures to protect the rights of both consumers and workers prior to a strike. Yet, the latest walkout that started on the fourth day after the Chinese New Year came without prior notice, leaving no time for both the company and passengers to react.
Back in 2016, contestation from CAL flight attendants impacted nearly 50,000 passengers who were noticed at the last minute. Soon after the strike ended, the Control Yuan demanded that the Ministry of Transportation and Communications, alongside the Ministry of Labor, push through new regulations to establish a “prestrike notice mechanism” for airlines. The system was nonetheless rejected by the Taoyuan Flight Attendant’s Union for fears that it would compromise their demands in any future walkouts.
According to media reports, information on transportation strikes in Europe is usually provided in advance to reduce the impact on travelers while guaranteeing the rights of workers. The mechanism is backed by European civilian organizations with the aim of encouraging employers and workers to return to the negotiation table in a win-win format that also includes passengers.
Nonetheless, the latest strike, which started at 6 a.m., shortly after its over-night announcement at 12 a.m., has brought a great deal of inconvenience to both the company and the consumers, owing to the unprecedented short notice. It is too early, however, to know if the action from the pilots will receive any support from the public.
As the number of strikes nationwide remains low, unions cannot evaluate the impact of their actions for now, but the Ministry of Labor should take actions to ensure that a joint notification system takes place in the near future. Japan was the first country in the region to adopt such legislation while European countries require a strike notice of up to 10 days. As the transportation industry plays an important role in the development of outbound travel, such actions could have a negative impact on consumer rights unless Taiwan, which is surrounded by oceans, adopts such notification system rapidly.