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Taiwan's EVA Air flight attendants begin voting on whether to strike

Union confident it will reach threshold for EVA Air flight attendants to begin strike in June

EVA Air jet taking off.

EVA Air jet taking off. (Wikimedia Commons photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) -- EVA Air flight attendants who are members of the Taoyuan Flight Attendants' Union began voting on Monday (May 13) to decide whether to call for a strike, and the union is confident it will reach the threshold needed to strike.

Voting started among union members in Taoyuan and Kaohsiung on Monday, and the union believes that given EVA Air's "tough attitude" toward union members, the organization is confident that it will garner the necessary votes to reach the threshold to begin a strike, reported CNA.

Union representatives said that their main grievances are that EVA Air's salary structure is lower than that of rival China Airlines and that the working conditions are substandard.

Union secretary-general Cheng Ya-ling (鄭雅菱) told CNA that the union members are being given two ballots to vote on, including: "Do you agree with the union to launch a strike against the airline? Do you agree with the union to set up a picket line?"

Taiwan's EVA Air flight attendants begin voting on whether to strike
Union members protesting against EVA Air. (CNA photo)

Cheng said that based on the Settlement of Labor–Management Disputes Act (勞資爭議處理法), for a strike to take place, more than half of existing union members must vote in agreement. In addition, the union requires that more than 80 percent of its EVA Air members be in agreement for a strike to take place. If both requirements are not met, a strike cannot take place.

Given that the total membership of the Taoyuan Flight Attendants' Union is 5,933, at least 2,967 must vote in favor of a strike for it to take place. In addition, at least 2,621 EVA Air members must vote in support of the strike for it to go into effect.

Regarding the airline's "tough attitude," Cheng told CNA that it is "an authoritarian company, and unreasonable statements are issued or wrong policies are often implemented." Cheng said that threats and intimidation by the company are illegal and have aroused sufficient anger among union members to garner the 80 percent approval needed to start a strike.

Taiwan's EVA Air flight attendants begin voting on whether to strike
Union member voting. (CNA photo)

Members of the union who are EVA Air flight attendants will vote between May 13 to May 26 on whether a strike should take place. China Airlines members will vote on May 27, while members from other airlines will vote from June 3 to June 6.

After three mediation sessions, talks between the union and EVA Air have broken down. The union is calling for more rest time between flights, an increase in the layover allowance for its members, and the inclusion of its representatives on the air carrier's board and internal disciplinary committee.

The union also created a YouTube video titled "Breaking the Myth of Zero Trade Unions! The story of the brave struggle for dignity by EVA Air flight attendants." The video sets out to explain to members of the public why the EVA Air branch of the union was created and why it is planning to strike.