CAL, EVA pilots union vote in favor of a strike

Taipei, Aug. 7 (CNA) Pilots with China Airlines (CAL) and EVA Airways, Taiwan's two main international carriers, have voted overwhelmingly in favor of a strike over working hour and overseas pay issues, the Pilots Union Taoyuan announced Tuesday.

Around 99 percent of the CAL pilots and 97 percent of the EVA Air pilots who cast ballots voted to strike in the wake of unsuccessful negotiations with management, according to union tallies.

There was no immediate indication, however, of when a strike might occur.

Under Taiwan's labor laws, unions have the legal right to call a strike if 50 percent of their eligible members vote on the proposal and the majority votes in favor of it.

The vote, which took place from July 16 to Aug. 6, met both requirements for the union as a whole and for each of its two major branches representing CAL and EVA Air.

Of 878 CAL pilots in the union (representing 70 percent of the airline's pilots), 741 cast ballots and 731, or 98.6 percent, voted to strike.

On the EVA Air side, of the 542 EVA Air pilots in the union (representing 50 percent of the airline's pilots), 469 cast ballots and 454, or 96.8 percent, voted to strike.

While the pilots have met the legal threshold to go on strike, the union said it will not do so around an upcoming overseas visit by President Tsai Ing-wen (???).

According to the union's executive director, Chen Hsiang-lin (???), himself a CAL pilot, the union will not take advantage of Tsai's trip to Paraguay and Belize from Aug. 12 to 20 to stage a walkout.

Two years ago, CAL flight attendants went on a strike on the same day Tsai departed on a CAL charter flight to Panama and Paraguay. The trip was not disrupted, but it gave the union more leverage in negotiations with management.

At the heart of the dispute between the pilots and the carriers is the two airlines' management style, the pilots' time off and how days off are defined.

For instance, pilots at EVA Air are given 123 days off a year, but Chen contended that scheduling issues and the airline's tight definition of the term mean that pilots in some cases get as few as 90 days off a year.

Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel