TAIPEI (CNA) — The Taoyuan Flight Attendants Union (TFAU) said on April 19 it will hold a vote next month in which members will decide whether EVA Air flight attendants go on strike or continue negotiations that broke down earlier this week.
The vote will likely take more than 10 days, the TFAU said, and it urged the airline to come up with effective solutions to the issues the union has raised, which are mainly focused on work hours and pay.
The TFAU, to which 3,000 of EVA Air’s 4,000 flight attendants belong, declined to answer any further questions raised by the media on Friday. In response to the TFAU’s latest declaration, an EVA Air executive expressed regret and urged the union to resume talks to avoid a “no-win” situation.
Among the key demands of the union are to improve work schedules that leave flight attendants fatigued and have EVA Air allow employees to attend the company’s board and evaluation meetings.
TFAU Secretary-General Cheng Ya-ling (鄭雅菱) said previously that during the negotiations, the union asked that flight crews work only one way on 21 selected routes and resting overnight rather than working both legs of a round-trip flight on the same day to avoid fatigue.
But the union later voluntarily cut down the number of routes to two — between Taipei and Beijing and Taipei and Tokyo — Cheng said, and EVA Air has agreed to allow flight attendants on outbound flights to those destinations to stay overnight and then return to work on an inbound flight the next day.
The problem, Cheng said, is that the airline’s proposal was conditional, being subject to seasonal considerations, and was to be carried out on a trial basis.
The EVA Air executive countered Friday that the airline has given its flight attendants the option of whether they wanted to work on those “undesired flights” on a monthly basis, offering those who accepted the incentive of more days off.
The program is completely voluntary-based and those who do not want to fly on such flights can avoid them as they wish, the executive explained, and he questioned why the union insisted on addressing the issue by demanding that flight attendants rest overnight in either Tokyo or Beijing.
The union has also asked that allowances for flight attendants when off work in overseas destinations be raised from NT$90 (US$3) to NT$150 per hour per flight but insisted that such benefits not apply to non-union flight attendants.
On Friday, the EVA Air executive said the airline has given all its employees a year-end bonus of four month’s pay for four years in a row, the equivalent of a monthly salary raise of nearly NT$10,000, the best offer in the industry.
Previously, the airline agreed to the demand for better pay, but refused the “no free ride” proposal by the union, explaining that it would result in unequal treatment of flight attendants.
The airline said it would also jeopardize flight safety and the quality of service, which made it impossible to agree to the union’s proposal to exclude non-members.
The TFAU has a total of 5,600 members, with most of those who do not work for EVA Air belonging to Taiwan’s other major international carrier, China Airlines.
For a strike vote to pass, more than half of the 5,600 members would have to cast ballots in favor of the motion.
By William Yen and Lee Hsin-Yin