Taiwan’s second airline employee strike this year to date has impacted more than 25,000 passengers just before a peak travel season, showing the powers of labor unions that are uncommon elsewhere in Asia and even among other Taiwanese professions.
An Eva Airways strike that entered its fifth day Monday had spiked about 60% of scheduled flights hit about 25,300 travelers, many of whom were bumped to other airlines. About 2,000 people, two-thirds of all flight attendants, walked away from their posts as many Taiwanese were planning summer holidays.
In February, about 600 of the 900 unionized pilots of China Airlines went on strike for a week during the Lunar New Year travel season. Eva and China Airlines are Taiwan's two biggest carriers, taking passengers daily as far as North America.
Few other Asian airlines have weathered strikes, as many major carriers are state-owned or their home countries lack effective labor unions, analysts believe.
“This is really related to the fact that the trade unions there hold relatively more power than the rest of what we see in Asia,” said Paul Yong, an aviation analyst with DBS Bank in Singapore. “The power or the amount of influence trade unions have in any country I think is built up over time, and it’s also a function of how powerful the government allows it to be, and to a certain extent also social norms.”
Eva Airways flight attendants backed by the Taoyuan Flight Attendants Union have eight demands, including more pay and less overtime on international flights, union member Chou Pei-ru said Monday. Some flights sometimes force workers to wait in overseas airports for weather delays, Chou said. The union is demanding as well more access to the airline’s management to discuss whatever issues come up, she said.
The China Airlines pilots wanted higher salaries and more staffing to ease fatigue on longer flights. The airline agreed to increase the number of pilots.
The exposure is obvious to passengers. Eva Airways had cancelled 158 flights as of Sunday and estimated a business loss of $18.7 million, the company said in a notice to the Taiwan Stock Exchange. A media office representative with the airline declined comment Monday and said other spokespeople were in all-day meetings.
The February strike by the Pilots Union Taoyuan led to cancellation of 80 flights and $34 million in business losses for China Airlines, the company said then in its own statement to the stock exchange.
Source : VOA