Taipei, July 25 (CNA) Transport and Communications Minister Wu Hong-mo (吳宏謀) on Wednesday proposed that labor unions give "reasonable advance notice" of planned strikes, particularly in the case of commercial airline workers.
Wu told CNA that he planned to discuss the proposal with Labor Minister Hsu Ming-chun (許銘春), when Hsu returns from his current overseas visit.
"Workers have their right to strike, but those in the public transportation sector should also consider their social responsibility and national security," which should not be compromised in negotiations between labor and management, said Wu, who was appointed transportation minister just over a week ago in a Cabinet reshuffle.
His comment came against the backdrop of a recent decision by some 800 pilots of China Airlines (CAL) and 500 of EVA Airways to hold a vote in the period July 16 to Aug. 6 to decide whether to stage a walkout, after they failed to reach an agreement with their respective management teams over the matter of overtime and other issues.
Wu said "reasonable advance notice" of at least 14 days of any strike by pilots of Taiwan's two major airlines would help to minimize the impact on the traveling public in the summer high season.
According to the Civil Aviation Administration, it is customary in other countries for airline unions to give 7 to 10 days' notice of a strike so management can make contingency plans.
Under Taiwan's labor laws, union members have the legal right to go on strike if 50 percent of their eligible members vote on the proposal and the majority votes in favor of it.
CAL and EVA labor unions are members of the Pilots Union Taoyuan, which said late last month that the vote was scheduled after negotiations on working conditions within the two airline companies broke down.
Union officials said a vote on a strike was the only option left after several rounds of negotiations with the two airlines on issues such as overwork, as management refused to compromise.
The unions said they will give advance notice of any strikes but did not specify how long the labor action might last.
The CAL union represents 70 percent of CAL's pilots and the EVA union 50 percent of the company's pilots, according to the Pilots Union Taoyuan's executive director, Chen Hsiang-lin (陳祥麟), a CAL pilot.
Chen said the union appealed to the Taoyuan Department of Labor to mediate in the negotiations between the union and EVA Air, but no consensus was reached on any of the 16 appeals made union, after three rounds of negotiations.