EVA Air Cabin Crew Strike Enters Seventh Day

 - June 26, 2019, 10:48 AM
Hundreds of flights by Taiwan's EVA Air have been cancelled as a flight attendants' strike continues.

Taiwan’s second-largest carrier EVA Air remains locked in a bitter labor dispute with its flight attendants' union after negotiations failed last week. The main issue is a list of grievances varying from higher allowances and better working hours to the inclusion of union representatives on the airline’s board. Longstanding disagreements over poor management and working conditions prompted the Taoyuan Flight Attendants Union (TFAU) to call a strike on June 20 after some 4,000 union members voted in favor of industrial action in late May and early June.

As of Wednesday, the strike has resulted in an estimated loss of approximately $43.2 million in revenue after the cancellation of some 295 flights, EVA said in a Taiwan Stock Exchange filing. The routes affected include flights between Taipei and Hong Kong—one of the busiest air routes in the world—as well as flights to Japan, Singapore, London, and New York.

EVA Air aircraft sit parked at Taipei's Taoyuan International Airport in Taiwan. (Photo: Matt Thurber)

Earlier this week, EVA Air announced plans to hire an additional 200 flight attendants, including males and foreign workers. The Taiwanese carrier currently employs an all-female cabin crew workforce totaling approximately 4,300 employees. In response, the TFAU has accused the airline of intimidating its strikers. EVA has denied the allegations, claiming the union is preventing some 100 flight attendants from abandoning the strike and returning to work.

Union members and airline representatives are expected to resume talks on Friday. The TFAU has expressed willingness to negotiate on three key sticking points: an increase in hourly flight allowances between $3 to $5, the inclusion of an independent director on the airline’s board, and the so-called “free ride” clause that prevents non-union members from receiving higher daily allowances. Other demands include working only one leg on nine designated regional routes. According to the union, these routes often require cabin crews to work more than 12 hours, which is in violation of the country’s labor act.

The cabin crew strike marks the latest in a series of labor battles between union members and the country’s two largest carriers. In February, more than 600 China Airlines pilots, represented by the Taoyuan Union of Pilots, staged a walkout after a series of negotiations failed over longstanding disputes surrounding working hours and labor-law violations. The airline had to cancel more than 200 flights, resulting in more than $16 million in losses. After seven days of strikes, pilots returned to work after the two sides reached a consensus on the majority of worker demands.