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CAL reverses decision to suspend contracts of striking pilots: MOTC

2019/02/09 21:02:44

CAL pilots at Ministry of Transportation and Communications

Taipei, Feb. 9 (CNA) China Airlines (CAL) has agreed to revoke an earlier decision to suspend the employment contracts of pilots involved in an ongoing strike ahead of negotiations Saturday over five major labor disputes, according to the Ministry of Transportation and Communications (MOTC).

CAL accepted a request by the Pilots Union Taoyuan, which organized the strike, to affirm that the employment contracts of the pilots participating in the strike remain valid and will be continued in accordance with related laws, the MOTC said.

The union required CAL to make the promise to assuage concern among its pilots that going on strike will result in a suspension of employment contracts, and CAL yielded to the request after three hours of talks, the MOTC said.

According to the union, after the strike was launched at 6 a.m. Friday, CAL issued letters to its employees threatening them with consequences if they strike.

CAL denied the accusation, saying that the letters were intended to explain to its employees the rule that salaries and other benefits to which pilots are entitled will be suspended during their participation in the strike.

As of 9 p.m. Saturday, negotiations over the five demands for which the union launched the strike to change the management system of CAL, a 35 percent stake of which is controlled by the government, were still ongoing.

The union has demanded that CAL increase the number of pilots and co-pilots assigned to each long-haul flight to address the issue of pilot fatigue from overwork and that local and foreign pilots must be treated as equals in terms of recruitment, training and promotion.

In terms of the first demand, the union has demanded that CAL assign four pilots and co-pilots instead of the usual three on all flights scheduled to take more than 12 hours, while flights taking at least eight hours should have three flight crew members instead of two.

The union also demanded transparency in the company's promotion and training system for co-pilots, the dismissal of members of CAL's management who have defamed the union, and a year-end bonus of a month's full pay limited to members of the union.

The five issues were among 21 over which the union has pushed CAL to address or face strike action when the union secured an overwhelming mandate from its members, 900 of whom, or 70 percent, are CAL pilots, in a vote in August last year.

At that time, the union decided to hold off on industrial action for a year, following meditation by the Taoyuan City government's Department of Labor, to allow for negotiations over the 21 issues, but it decided on Feb. 1 to strike after recent talks with CAL management over the five demands broke down.

Saturday's negotiations were attended by representatives from the union, CAL management, officials from the Ministry of Labor and the Taoyuan City government's Department of Labor and was meditated by the MOTC.

Since the strike began, at least 400, or about 30 percent, of CAL pilots have deposited their flight certificates with the union, meaning that they have voluntarily and temporarily given up the right to operate an aircraft, according to the union.

According to the relevant authorities, CAL has a total of 1,336 pilots, 1,209 of whom are Taiwanese. The strike forced the cancellation of 31 flights on Friday and Saturday and caused six delays, with 16 more flights on Sunday to be canceled.

(By Yu Hsiao-han and Shih Hsiu-chuan)