Airline labor unions demand typhoon days off

Taipei, Several airline labor unions staged a rally outside the Ministry of Labor (MOL) on Monday, calling for new regulations that would give air carrier employees the same rights as other workers regarding leave days during natural disasters.

The unions said that when local governments announce a day off due to a typhoon, some airline workers are usually caught in the dilemma of whether to stay at home for safety reasons and risk punishment by the company, or to go to work and risk injury, the trade unions said.

Under the current regulations, typhoon days are decided by the local governments, but private company employees are bound by the terms of their contracts.

Cheng Ya-ling (???), secretary-general of the Taoyuan Flight Attendants Union (TFAU), told reporters at a press conference that there are relevant guidelines, which do not allow private company employers to classify official typhoon days as absence without leave, to ask their employees to work compensatory days, or to deduct pay or impose any other form of penalty for absence on such days.

He said, however, that the Guidelines for Workers' Attendance Management and Wages are not compulsory and airlines do not comply with them.

To protect the safety of private company workers during natural disasters and avoid disputes between labor and management, the labor ministry should immediately introduce new regulations that would address the issue, Cheng said.

Meanwhile, the EVA Air Corporate Union accused the airline of unilaterally amending the regulations pertaining to days off during natural disasters.

Liao Yi-chin (???), the union's director, said that after the airline was forced to cancel more than 50 round-trip flights in July 2017 due to Typhoon Nesat, the union began negotiations with the company on the matter.

Subsequently, the company convened a meeting and made flight arrangements before Typhoon Maria swept past northern Taiwan on July 10, but the company also revised its rules pertaining to typhoon days off for flight attendants, Liao said.

Under EVA's revised rules, he said, if crew members apply for a typhoon day off, they have to provide evidence of traffic disruption and they risk losing their full-attendance bonus.

Liao said those terms are ill-intentioned and show that the company does not take its employees' safety seriously. He called for the company to retract those regulations and restart negotiations with the union to avoid hurting the relationship between management and employees.

In response, Wang Ching-jung (???), a specialist in the MOL's Labor Conditions and Equal Employment Division, cited the Guidelines for Workers' Attendance Management and Wages and said that if employees are punished for taking time off during a natural disaster, they could file a petition with the local authorities, which will investigate and deal with the matter.

As for the unions' demand for a special regulation to address the issue, Wang said, the labor ministry will make an assessment and gather opinions from various sectors.

Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel