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Cabin crew urge Taiwan's Eva Air to resume talks amid week-long strike

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Eva Air's flight attendants taking part in an event to gather support for the week-long strike over work conditions outside the airline's headquarters in Taoyuan, Taiwan, last Sunday.

Taipei

FLIGHT attendants at Taiwan's Eva Airways Corp urged the airline on Thursday to restart negotiations to end a week-long strike that has led to the cancellation of hundreds of international flights.

Eva Air said a total of 368 flights, or 40 per cent, will be cancelled from July 1 to July 5. Nearly 300 flights have already been cancelled since its cabin crew went on strike on June 20, including flights from Taipei to Chicago, Paris, Seoul and Hong Kong.

The week-long strike, which is the longest in the aviation history of Taiwan, where labour unrest is uncommon, has led Eva to estimate a revenue loss of about NT$1.34 billion (S$58.5 million).

The union representing Eva Air's flight attendants made several concessions on Thursday on its demands to improve work conditions and pay, having failed to reach an agreement with the airline's management after talks lasting months.

It said in a statement: "The union has adjusted its proposal and is urging Eva Air to restart the negotiation as soon as possible. We have been hoping that Eva Airways would restart negotiations swiftly to resolve the dispute."

Eva Air said it was still working on a statement when contacted by Reuters.

The company has filed several lawsuits against the union since the strike began, including a request for a daily compensation of NT$34 million for what it sees as an "illegal strike".

More than 2,000 flight attendants from Eva Air's all-female cabin crew have taken turns since June 20 to join demonstrations outside the firm's headquarters near Taoyuan International Airport, the union said.

The protests were marked by signs, speeches and, at times, scuffles between cabin crew and representatives from Eva Air.

On Thursday, a giant inflatable balloon that read "Come home" was seen floating above Eva Air's headquarters. The cabin crew responded with a large sign saying "We can't see our way home yet".

Eva Air, best known internationally for the Hello Kitty livery on some of its jets, operates flights to many destinations around Asia as well as to North America and Europe.

Pilots at rival China Airlines went on strike in February, leading to 122 flight cancellations and NT$220 million in lost revenue. REUTERS