Union mulls EVA Air strike if upcoming talks make no progress

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“We are open to talks but are doubtful that the upcoming discussions will be any different to our two previous negotiations,” said TFAU Deputy Secretary-General Chou Sheng-kai (周聖凱), adding that the union has been carrying out strike rehearsals. (NOWnews)

TAIPEI (CNA) – Flight attendants with EVA Airways could strike if planned negotiations with the airline on Thursday fail to meet their demands, the Taoyuan Flight Attendants Union (TFAU) said on June 17 after holding discussions with EVA about the meeting’s rules and procedures.

“We are open to talks but are doubtful that the upcoming discussions will be any different to our two previous negotiations,” said TFAU Deputy Secretary-General Chou Sheng-kai (周聖凱), adding that the union has been carrying out strike rehearsals.

As Thursday’s meeting will be the first between management and labor under government mediation since the union secured the legal right to strike on June 7, Chou said the TFAU does not rule out the possibility of calling for immediate labor action if they are not happy with the carrier’s offer.

In the polling that took place from May 13 to June 6, union members voted in favor of strike action at EVA over work hours and overseas pay issues.

Thursday’s negotiation, to be arbitrated by Deputy Labor Minister Liu Shih-hao (劉士豪), will also be broadcast live, an issue on which the two sides disagree.

In a statement after the talks, EVA said it is crucial the negotiation process is open to the media and members of the public “so it can be scrutinized by the public in a fair manner.”

The union does not agree, saying the broadcast will ensure no meaningful discussion of the issues can take place, as the two sides will be talking not to each other but to the audience.

“A broadcast will turn the talks into a show,” Chou said, adding that even though the union has accepted the arrangement, it still doubts the goodwill of the company.

The approval of strike action came in the wake of unsuccessful negotiations with management on overseas allowances and work hours on regional round trips.

The union has demanded that the airline raise flight attendants’ allowances when off work in overseas destinations from NT$90 (US$3) to NT$150 per hour per flight, but that the increase be given only to union members. It has also called on EVA Air to allow flight attendants working nine regional round-trip routes to work only one way and rest overnight, rather than working both legs of the flight on the same day.

The work time on those nine routes often exceeds 12 hours when both legs of the round trip are included, the maximum amount allowed in a single shift under the Labor Standards Act, the union said.

Among the routes cited as meeting that criteria are flights connecting Taiwan and Tokyo, Beijing, Phnom Penh, Ho Chi Minh City, China’s Harbin and Shenyang, and Hohhot, the capital of Inner Mongolia. ●

By Lee Hsin-Yin