TAIPEI, Taiwan - Members of the Taoyuan Union of Pilots, which includes numerous pilots from Taiwan's national carrier China Airlines (CAL), overwhelmingly approved a motion to strike, according to results made public yesterday. According to the Union of Pilots, of 598 votes cast, an overwhelming 596 approved the move to strike. Two members abstained.
The vote, conducted by the pilots union from April 4 to April 25, is historic for the island's aviation industry, as it represents the first time the employees of an airline have obtained the legal right to strike.
Union Chairman Yang Kuang-hai, also a pilot of CAL said that further discussions about strategy and logistics pertaining to the possible strike would be hammered out this Thursday.
Pilots Set Deal Deadline for May 11
Pilots representing the union have several demands, including the re-evaluation of working hours and allotted days off. Union officials have previously called the ensuring of adequate off time a critical matter connected with the well-being of pilots and flight safety. They indicate that current company policy on the surface allocates eight days off per month, but that in actuality due to scheduling and logistics, the actual number is closer to five days.
The union also demanded changes to the company's top-level management, continuing criticisms it made public in March 2015. Then, it accused CAL Chairman Sun Hung-hsiang of mismanagement leading to the decline of in-flight service quality. The union collected more than 3,000 signatures from February to March 2015 to oust the company's current management.
Remaining areas of dispute also include the company's equipment repair policies, filling personnel shortages and ending other cost-cutting measures.
In January 2015, approximately 1,000 CAL employees demonstrated outside company headquarters in Taipei over the amount of their year-end bonuses. Company pilots, mechanics and other employees joined in solidarity.
Negotiations with Pilots Ongoing: CAL
CAL responded yesterday to the reports, stating that it would continue negotiations with the union, which it claims have been ongoing, in order to prevent potential traffic disruptions following a strike. It added that consensus in the union on several issues would lead to concrete negotiations on May 11. The Ministry of Labor, while maintaining that only teachers and soldiers are barred from strike action, called for continued dialogue between management and employees due to potential disruptions.
The Civil Aeronautics Administration (CAA) indicated that a re-evaluation of aviation-related work hours in accordance with the Civil Aviation Code was initiated last year in order to reduce pilot fatigue. The report is due to be released early next month.
CAL currently operates in 115 destinations across 29 countries and regions.