Flight attendants union calls for better conditions as strike vote ends

06/06/2019 10:16 PM
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CNA file photo
CNA file photo

Taipei, June 6 (CNA) The Taoyuan Flight Attendants Union (TFAU) on Thursday urged EVA Air management to address the issues of pay, work hours and corporate governance after a vote on whether to strike ended, with the union predicting overwhelming support for labor action.

More than 4,000 TFAU members from EVA, China Airlines (CAL) and other smaller carriers cast their ballots during a strike ballot held from May 13 - June 6, said TFAU Secretary-General Cheng Ya-ling (鄭雅菱), urging the company to recognize the determination of the flight attendants.

Among the 4,000 voters, about 3,000 were EVA flight attendants, accounting for 75 percent of the airline's total cabin crew and 90 percent of the union's EVA members, Cheng said.

The union had said that the vote needs the support of more than half its 5,600 members, according to the Act for Settlement of Labor-Management Disputes.

The union has also voluntarily set a second threshold, requiring that any vote to strike must be approved by at least 80 percent of its EVA members, to address concerns that the vote could be manipulated by non-EVA workers.

The number of votes cast meets the threshold for a strike vote to be valid, she explained

The union expressed disappointment that EVA failed to demonstrate sufficient good will to try and solve the problems during two earlier management-labor talks on May 24 and May 29, blasting EVA Chairman Steve Lin (林寶水) for not attending.

Cheng said the votes will be counted on Friday.

The central point of dispute is a "no free ride" proposal, from the union to allow only its members to receive higher hourly allowances for overseas flights, which means non-members would not be eligible.

The airline has argued that such an offer would jeopardize flight safety and quality of service.

EVA has also said it already has better employee benefits than most other airlines, and it is flexible on the demand for reduced work hours on some of the routes that crews consider "overwork flights."

The carrier said it is willing to start a trial period on Flight BR198/197 on the Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport-Tokyo Narita route, allowing flight attendants to work only one way and rest overnight, rather than working a round-trip flight on the same day.

"There are almost no carriers with such arrangements for that route," EVA said.

The airline said it has extended an olive branch by offering the same arrangement on flights BR716/715 on the Taoyuan-Beijing route in stormy weather and whenever runways at Beijing airport are under annual maintenance.

However, the union has refused to back down, citing more routes when flight attendants often have to work more than 12 hours, including those between Taiwan and Phnom Penh, Ho Chi Minh City, Harbin, Shenyang, and Hohhot.

The union held a rally earlier this week, demanding a fairer share of the benefits that airline management enjoys.

(By Lee Hsin-Yin)


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