Taipei, April 25 (CNA) The Taoyuan Flight Attendants Union (TFAU) announced Thursday that it will hold a vote from May 13 to June 6, in which members will decide whether EVA Air flight attendants will go on strike or continue negotiations that broke down April 17.
All of the union's 5,600 members, whether they are EVA Air attendants or employees of other airlines, have the right to vote in Taipei, Taoyuan or Kaohsiung during that period, TFAU Secretary-General Cheng Ya-ling (鄭雅菱) said.
As long as 2,800 members vote in favor of launching a strike, the union will have the legal right to do so, she said.
She was referring to the Act for Settlement of Labor-Management Disputes, which stipulates that a labor union cannot call a strike or set up picket lines unless the strike has been approved by no less than one half of the union members.
TFAU's negotiations with EVA Air broke down April 17 over work schedules and a request that employees be allowed to attend company board and evaluation meetings, Cheng said.
According to Cheng, the union has demanded that flight crews work only one way on 21 selected routes and be allowed to rest overnight, rather than working both legs of a round-trip flight on the same day.
But the union later voluntarily cut the number of routes to just two -- between Taipei and Beijing and Taipei and Tokyo, Cheng said.
EVA Air has agreed to allow flight attendants on outbound flights to those destinations to stay overnight and then return to work on an inbound flight the following day.
However, Cheng said, the airline's proposal is conditional, subject to seasonal considerations and only on a trial basis.
The EVA Air executive countered April 19 that the airline has given its flight attendants the option of whether they want to work on those "undesirable flights" on a monthly basis, offering those who accept more days off as an incentive.
The program is completely volunteer-based and those who do not want to fly on such flights can avoid them, the executive explained, questioning why the union insisted on addressing the issue by demanding that flight attendants rest overnight in either Tokyo or Beijing.
The union has also asked that allowances for flight attendants off work in overseas destinations be raised from NT$90 (US$3) to NT$150 per hour per flight, but insisted that such benefits should not apply to non-union flight attendants.
In response, the EVA Air executive said the airline has given all its employees a year-end bonus of four month's pay for four years in a row, the equivalent of a monthly salary increase of nearly NT$10,000, the best offer in the industry.
Previously, the airline agreed to the demand for better pay, but refused a "no free ride" proposal by the union, explaining that it would result in unequal treatment for flight attendants.
The airline said it would also jeopardize flight safety and the quality of service, which made it impossible to agree to the union's proposal to exclude non-members.
Most of the TFAU members who do not work for EVA Air belong to Taiwan's other major international carrier, China Airlines.