Archive for ‘striking pilots’

09/02/2019

China Airlines resumes talks with striking pilots amid airport chaos

  • Transport minister urges swift resolution so stranded travellers can get home after Lunar New Year holiday
  • Airline rebuked for breakdown in negotiations and pilots urged to consider the rights of passengers
PUBLISHED : Saturday, 09 February, 2019, 7:17pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 09 February, 2019, 7:17pm

Taiwan’s largest airline China Airlines and its pilot union returned to the negotiating table on Saturday in a closed-door coordination meeting over an ongoing strike that so far has forced the cancellation of 34 flights, including at least 12 to or from Hong Kong.

The carrier cancelled four Saturday flights between Hong Kong and Kaohsiung and three between Taipei and Hong Kong, after scrapping five flights to and from Hong Kong the previous day. More than 12 flights have been delayed in the past two days, according to the airline.

The China Airlines branch of the Taoyuan Union of Pilots is protesting the airline’s failure to improve pilots’ working conditions and launched industrial action at 6am on Friday after talks broke down on Thursday, saying the strike would continue indefinitely until China Airlines agreed to meet its demands.

Taiwan’s transport ministry stepped in, asking China Airlines and the union to hold a new round of talks on Saturday afternoon under the supervision of the Taoyuan Labour Affairs Department.

Earlier on Saturday, transport minister Lin Chia-lung said airline management should have reviewed the reasons behind the breakdown in talks, in light of last year’s successful negotiations between EVA Air, another major Taiwan carrier, and its pilots.

“Senior officials of China Airlines should have listened to the voices of their employees and put aside their emotion to properly handle the labour dispute,” Lin said, adding that the union should also take note of the rights of travellers and resume negotiations with the employer to jump-start reform of China Airlines’ aviation safety and systems.

The union voted to strike in August and obtained approval from the labour authorities following disputes dating back to December 2017 between pilots and the two airlines over working conditions.

The EVA pilots agreed not to strike after a consensus was reached with airline, coordinated by the labour authorities, but no agreement was reached between China Airlines and its pilots, prompting Friday’s action.

Lin said he hoped the dispute could be settled as soon as possible so that stranded passengers could return home in time for work on Monday, the day after the official end of the Lunar New Year holiday.

In a statement released on Friday, the union said it staged the strike because China Airlines had refused to take note of the fatigued condition of pilots required to work overtime, which it said created a flight risk.

The union is demanding an additional backup pilot for flights lasting eight hours or more, and two pilots on long-haul flights lasting 12 hours or more.

The pilots also want a more transparent system of promotion, a year-end bonus similar to EVA Air’s, and other concessions, including replacement of the management staff they say were responsible for the breakdown in talks.

The union is also demanding an assurance that there will be no later punishment for the strike action.

China Airlines has rejected the union’s demand for extra manpower on long-haul flights, saying the pilots’ working conditions are in line with international practice and that “increasing manpower would raise human resources costs and seriously affect the competitiveness of the company”.

Deputy transport minister Wang Kwo-tsai appeared to support the union’s position on fatigue and promotion issues.

“After all, fatigue would cause flight risks and protection of the benefits for employees would enable the company to operate continuously,” he told reporters on Saturday.

Wang stressed the strike had already disrupted air traffic and stranded passengers, and said there was a strong need for the two sides to swiftly resolve the dispute to ensure the rights of passengers.

Source: SCMP

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