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Union votes to strike at Taiwan’s Eva Air in salary, conditions dispute



© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: An Airbus aircraft of Taiwan’s Eva Air decorated with Hello Kitty motifs is seen at Taoyuan International Airport, northern Taiwan, March 14, 2016. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu/File Photo

TAIPEI (Reuters) -A pilots’ union on Monday voted to strike at Taiwan’s Eva Airways in a dispute over salaries and working conditions, raising the prospect of industrial action that could impact flights over the crucial Lunar New Year holidays next month.

Taoyuan Union of Pilots says Eva has not raised salaries enough and has been recruiting foreign pilots to fill manpower shortages without adhering to the law. Eva says it has steadily been raising salaries and has not recruited any pilots in contravention of the law.

The union began balloting members on strike action last month after talks with Eva broke down.

In a statement after the vote was counted, the union said pilots had voted to authorise it to launch strike action and it expected strikes to take place around the Lunar New Year, but did not give exact dates.

The week-long Lunar New Year holiday starts in Taiwan on Feb. 8.

Eva, in a statement, expressed regret at the vote and called on the union to keep talking.

Eva “will not abandon negotiations with the trade union”, it said.

The union said the strike will be announced 24 hours before it starts and it expects long-haul destinations to be most impacted, but added it is still willing to talk to the airline “until the last moment” to prevent it from taking place.

Eva said it has set up an emergency response team to respond to any strike and will announce affected flights on its website as soon as possible.

Taiwan’s Civil Aviation Administration said it hoped both sides would consider the upcoming Lunar New Year holiday and give priority to the rights and interests of passengers, and uphold good faith and communicate rationally with each other.

Eva must provide timely information to passengers, it added.

Eva’s Taipei-listed shares closed down 1.8% on Monday, underperforming a 0.8% gain for the broader market.

Eva, 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, Europe and Australia. It is Taiwan’s second-largest carrier after China Airlines.

In 2019, Eva cancelled hundreds of flights during an almost one month-long flight attendants’ strike – the longest-ever strike for Taiwan’s aviation industry.

This month, Eva finalised an order for 33 Airbus aircraft, with the airline previously indicating the deal was worth up to $10.1 billion.

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