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Taiwan cabin crew end strike after China Airlines concessions

38836708 - 24_06_2016 - TAIWAN-AVIATION-CAL-LABOUR-STRIKE.jpg
Taiwan's first ever strike by cabin crew, which left 20,000 passengers without flights, ended on Friday after China Airlines bowed to almost all of staff's demands.

[TAIPEI] Taiwan's first ever strike by cabin crew, which left 20,000 passengers without flights, ended on Friday after China Airlines bowed to almost all of staff's demands.

The strike on the island's biggest carrier ended late in the evening after hours of negotiations between unions and the airline's newly appointed management.

"After a marathon negotiation of four and a half hours, we got a good deal," Chao Kang, the head of the Taoyuan Flight Attendant Union, told hundreds of excited union members gathered outside the CAL office in Taipei.

The strikers, many in tears, chanted: "Victory for flight attendants".

The airline was forced to cancel all flights out of the two main airports in the capital Taipei - the only exception a chartered service for President Tsai Ing-wen, who left for a state visit to Panama and Paraguay on Friday morning.

Crowds of passengers queued up at CAL counters in Taipei's Songshan and Taoyuan airports as the airline tried to get them onto different flights.

Hundreds of flight attendants staged a sit-in outside the firm's office in Taipei on Thursday night, protesting a new requirement that they report for work in Taoyuan - on the outskirts of Taipei - rather than downtown Songshan airport.

They say the measure was brought in "unilaterally".

"(It) pressures us to work even more overtime and will seriously affect flight safety," the Taoyuan Flight Attendants Union said in a statement on its Facebook page.

The union is also calling for other improvements to conditions, including double pay for working on national holidays.

Ms Tsai gave her thanks to the flight attendants during a short speech before her departure and vowed the government would defend their labour rights.

Both CAL's president and chairman were replaced on Thursday after tendering their resignations before the strike.

Ho Nuan-hsuan, who was officially approved by the board as new chairman on Friday, made an immediate concession, agreeing to reverse the unpopular decision over where flight attendants should report to work.

"I promise to come up with a satisfactory response (to protesters' demands). Hopefully through the good will of the company, we can work together," Mr Ho told the strikers.

In the end, the new management accepted nearly all the strikers' seven demands.

Mr Ho was appointed by the transport ministry, which is CAL's largest shareholder.

In a statement Friday, CAL urged the government to intervene to bring the strike to a "smooth end".

It described the strike as an "unauthorised surprise attack" on the airline.

AFP