Taiwanese pilots threaten to strike if working conditions not improved


(By Central News Agency)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News)—A group of Taiwanese pilots threatened to strike if the two largest airlines in the country do not offer them better working conditions, a pilots’ labor union said Tuesday after getting overwhelming support from its members who participated in a vote, according to a Central News Agency report.

The Pilots Union Taoyuan said it will announce a strike date on August 20 if China Airlines (CAL) and EVA Airways do not promise to improve working conditions for their pilots by then.

If the strike goes ahead as planned, it would be the first time the country see a walkout staged by airline pilots.

The union said around 99% of the CAL pilots and 97% of the EVA Air pilots voted in favor of a strike following unsuccessful negotiations with their respective management, the report said.

The carriers said they respected but regretted the outcome of the union vote, according to the report.

The main points at issue are the pilots' time off, how days off are defined, and the two airlines' management style, the report said.

Taiwan’s government has the say over the management of CAL because the government controls the China Aviation Development Foundation, which is the largest shareholder of the country’s largest airline, but EVA Air is privately held.

"We are showing great sincerity for talks. After all, we make ends meet by working, not by striking," Union executive director and CAL pilot Chen Hsiang-lin (陳祥麟) said, according to the CNA report.

Noting that it had negotiated with union members several times and reached consensus on several issues, EVA Air said the pilots' working conditions comply with regulations set by the Civil Aeronautics Administration, and the pilots are not forced to overwork as they claim, the report said.

“CAL said it has never avoided negotiations with the union and hopes the pilots can be more flexible on pay issues and demands for extra days off because they will hurt the airline's competitiveness,” the CNA report said.

How a day off is defined is particularly contentious, the report said, citing Chen as saying that EVA Air promised them 123 days off a year, but due to scheduling issues and the airline's tight definition of the term, pilots in some cases get as few as 90 days off a year.