READY FOR A FIGHT:Taoyuan Flight Attendants Union members said China Airlines is denying a deal was a ‘collective bargaining agreement’ to reduce its legal effect
By Abraham Gerber / Staff reporter
Members of the Taoyuan Flight Attendants Union protest outside the Ministry of Labor in Taipei yesterday.
The agreement which ended June’s strike by China Airlinesflight attendants should be recognized as a “collective bargaining agreement,” Taoyuan Flight Attendants Union members said yesterday, as both sides prepared for legal action over whether non-union members should receive the pay increases agreed with the union.
About 30 people gathered outside of the Ministry of Labor in Taipei to protest the ministry’s refusal to instruct the Taoyuan City Government to register the deal as a collective bargaining agreement.
China Airlines has claimed that the agreement should only be registered as an “ordinary agreement” because chairman Ho Nuan-hsuan (何煖軒) had not been authorized to conduct a collective bargaining agreement with the union.
“We only ended the strike because we trusted the Ministry of Labor, but now people have returned to work we discover that the firm can go back on the terms of the agreement,” Cheng Ya-ling (鄭雅菱) said.
“China Airlines has dragged its feet and broken almost all of its promises, and now it is denying that the deal was a collective bargaining agreement to reduce its legal effect,” union president Chao Kang (趙剛) said.
Kang claimed that the company had failed to follow through on a promise to limit the agreed salary increases to union members.
He called the agreement’s “anti-free riding” clause a “core value,” which aims to keep union members united during any future strikes.
“There are not any consequences for union members who worked and were expelled, and the firm can use this to weaken the union,” he said.
The main importance of the deal being recognized as a “collective bargaining agreement” would be that new union members would be included in the deal, said Wu Chun-ta (吳俊達), the union’s lawyer, adding that without that recognition the agreement would be limited to members of the union when the deal was signed.
However, Chao said that the union’s membership has remained largely stable since the strike concluded, largely because membership has not been offered to flight attendants who had not joined the union prior to the strike.
“From what we know only a couple hundred flight attendants have not joined a union and most of them are at managerial level,” Department of Employment Relations Director Wang Hou-wei (王厚偉) said, adding that the “anti-free riding” clause should be equally enforceable regardless of whether the deal is officially recognized as a collective bargaining agreement.
Other problematic issues cited by the union included the increased workloads of flight attendants and the relatively low pay union officials receive when taking time off to do union work.
In a statement, China Airlines said that it was still in the process of meeting the terms of the agreement, adding that while it had increased the wages of union members, it was also obligated to increase the pay of members of other unions under separate agreements.
The Taoyuan Flight Attendants Union was formed after some of its members left the company’s official union, which did not participate in June’s strike, but negotiated equal benefits for its members afterward.