More flexible work rules mulled for aviation industry after EVA case

08/01/2017 09:08 PM
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Fang Chih-wen (方志文); CNA file photo
Fang Chih-wen (方志文); CNA file photo

Taipei, Aug. 1 (CNA) The Civil Aeronautics Administration (CAA) said Tuesday that it will work with the Ministry of Labor to come up with more flexible work rules for the aviation industry in the wake of EVA Airways' cancellation of 50 flights last week when its flight attendants took mass typhoon leave, affecting some 10,000 passengers.

Considering its mandate of serving the public, the aviation industry should be given more leeway for handling its workforce in future cases similar to the one of EVA Air, in which 500 crew members applied for a typhoon day off -- in line with regulations -- July 30 after all cities and counties in Taiwan announced school and office closures for that day.

The weather turned out to be good enough to fly, but the airline was unable to dispatch its flight crew due to legal constraints, which affected the passengers.

The case raised questions of whether the employees were taking advantage of the law to carry out strike action.

However, EVA Air has a bad record, too. It was fined NT$1.2 million (US$39,695) by the CAA earlier this year for allowing eight of its flights to operate during Typhoon Megi last September, which raised a public outcry at the time for putting their flight crew in danger.

Regardless of the motivation of the crew this time, CAA deputy head Fang Chih-wen (方志文) said, there could be adjustments made to the Operation Regulations on the Suspension of Offices and Classes to prevent similar incidents from taking place in the future.

The other way to fix the problem would be to have the management and labor negotiate their working conditions under such circumstances and include any conclusions in work contracts or collective agreements -- the latter being mediated through a labor union, Fang said.

"Either way, the key is for both sides to reach a consensus," Fang said after a CAA meeting with all six local carriers -- China Airlines, EVA Air, Far Eastern Air Transport, Tigerair Taiwan, Mandarin Airlines and UNI Air -- to solicit flight operators' opinions about the incident.

The CAA is also considering to demand a heads-up from the labor side in the future should they plan to launch a strike, to better protect the public.

However, that would be a more difficult approach in trying to reconcile management with labor, according to the labor ministry, because a heads-up could weaken labor's leverage in negotiations.

Minister of Transportation and Communications Ho Chen Tan (賀陳旦), urged airlines and their employees to always prioritize their clients' needs.

(By Lee Hsin-Yin)

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