TAIPEI (CNA) — EVA Air, one of Taiwan’s two major airlines, will restart negotiations with the Taoyuan Flight Attendants Union (TFAU) on May 24, after their last round of talks broke down in April, prompting an ongoing vote by union members on whether EVA Air flight attendants will go on strike.

It is hoped that a three-hour negotiation starting at 5:30 p.m. will address issues raised by the union, which mainly focus on salary, work hours and corporate governance, TFAU Deputy Secretary-General Chou Sheng-kai (周聖凱) told CNA.

“We are trying to create a working environment that is more friendly for flight attendants, and most of the improved conditions we are negotiating for are already enjoyed by China Airlines (CAL) flight attendants,” Chou said, referring to the other major airline in Taiwan, whose flight attendants went on strike in 2016.

Chou said the union is asking that allowances for EVA Air 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.

The professional union, which represents flight attendants working for Taiwanese airline companies, currently has 3,200 EVA Air members, who account for 75 percent of the carrier’s Taiwanese flight attendants.

In addition, the TFAU is asking that flight crews work only one way on nine selected routes and rest overnight rather than working both legs of a round-trip flight on the same day, to avoid fatigue.

Those flights include BR198/197 and BR196/195 serving the Taoyuan-Tokyo Narita route, and BR108/107 on Kaohsiung-Tokyo Narita, he said.

There is also BR265/266 on Taoyuan-Phnom Penh, BR716/715 on Taoyuan-Beijing and BR391/392 on Taoyuan-Ho Chi Minh City.

Rounding out the list is BR728/727 on Taoyuan-Hohhot, BR768/767 on Taoyuan-Harbin and BR110/109 on Taoyuan-Shenyang, all flights to Chinese cities.

Chou said the flight time for the flights concerned can exceed 10 hours, the maximum duration stipulated under the Aircraft Flight Operation Regulations (AOR), the global aviation industry standard.

“We are mostly concerned about flights connecting Tokyo, Beijing and Phnom Penh because they account for more than half of the overwork flights,” Chou said.

In addition, the union is asking EVA to pay double the salary for flight attendants who work on national holidays, and that each flight should be served by no more than two foreign flight attendants amid efforts to keep the payment standard above a certain level, he said.

EVA currently has about 500 foreign flight attendants, Chou said, adding that although they can join the union, none have so far registered with TFAU.

On corporate governance, Chou said the union would like labor representatives to be included on EVA Air’s committee of employee performance evaluation.

The union is also pushing the carrier to introduce either an independent director, labor director or similar positions to better protect labor rights, he said.

Of the EVA Air union members that have cast their ballots from May 13 to May 26, Chou said, the union has collected votes from 2,300 members, or 70 percent.

Two thresholds have to be met for the strike vote to pass, the first being the approval of more than half of the union’s 5,930 members from EVA, CAL and other smaller carriers.

However, acknowledging that labor action at EVA Air is best addressed by that airline’s flight attendants, the union has voluntarily established a second threshold, requiring that any strike vote be approved by at least 80 percent of its EVA Air members.

By Lee Hsin-Yin