Taiwan EVA Air flight attendants protest ahead of strike vote results

Union wants the airline to drop its 'authoritarian' management attitudes

EVA Air flight attendants destroy ice blocks symbolizing the company's 'zero union' attitude.

EVA Air flight attendants destroy ice blocks symbolizing the company's 'zero union' attitude. (CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – Hundreds of EVA Air flight attendants protested outside the airline’s headquarters in Taipei Tuesday (June 4), just two days before the result of a strike vote was expected to be announced.

A round of talks between management and the Taoyuan Flight Attendants Union on May 29 failed to reach an agreement about issues including overtime, long working hours and pay.

As a warning to management, an estimated 500 flight attendants and 300 supporters from other unions turned up outside EVA Air’s offices to break blocks of ice forming the Chinese characters for the term “zero labor union,” the Central News Agency reported. The term symbolized the company’s authoritarian approach to its staff and their wish to change its attitude toward unions, the protesters said.

Activists even drew a parallel with China’s June 4 Tiananmen Square massacre. EVA Air was founded in the same year, in 1989, but rising profits had not been followed by rising wages, showing that not only Taiwan needed to become more democratic, but corporations also needed to introduce worker democracy, union speakers said.

The protesters waved pink placards with the Chinese message “EVA Air flight attendants want respect” and the English words “Fight for flight.”

The march would pass by the government’s Executive Yuan offices and end at the organization named after the founder of the Evergreen Group which includes EVA Air, the Chang Yung-fa Foundation opposite the Presidential Office Building, according to CNA.

The strike vote over the past weeks reportedly drew more than 3,000 EVA flight attendants, but the announcement of the result on Thursday (June 6) would not lead to immediate action, union representatives said earlier. As the results will be made public on the eve of the Dragon Boat Festival, some passengers were afraid strikes would threaten their holiday plans, reports said.