Precautions taken as tension escalates over pilot strike

Taipei, Transportation authorities said Saturday that they have taken precautions in the possibility of a strike by pilots of the nation's two major airlines, while the pilot union said it will launch a rehearsal of the walkout amid growing pressure from the carriers.

Wang Kwo-tsai (???), Deputy Minister of Transportation and Communications, said the ministry has been discussing with the Ministry of Labor and the Taoyuan City government, where the pilot union is based, to solve the problem swiftly.

While he declined to disclose details, Wang said the authorities have been working to have the pilots, China Airlines and EVA Airways talk to each other to avoid a strike.

Meanwhile, the Taoyuan International Airport Corp. (TIAC), which is responsible for the management of the country's main gateway, said it has held meetings with CAL, EVA Air and airport service companies to prepare for the worst-case scenario.

TIAC spokesman Lee Jian-kuo (???) said it has come up with a response plan, which mainly concerns the use of ramps.

Should there be a strike, the airlines must make sure that their aircraft do not occupy the ramps and gangways, Lee said.

As many as 70 percent of the members of the Pilots Union Taoyuan have cast their ballots on whether to stage a walkout as part of a vote held July 16-Aug. 6, in the wake of unsuccessful negotiations on working conditions with CAL and EVA Air.

The union represents about 800, or 70 percent, of CAL's pilots and 500, or 50 percent, of EVA Air's pilots.

While the union said earlier this week that they are considering a strike during the Mid-Autumn Festival, it also said Saturday that it has received a provisional injunction, a court order applied by CAL, to prevent the union going on strike before a hearing can take place.

CAL confirmed that it has appealed to the court that the strike planned by the union is illegitimate.

The lawsuit, regardless of its result, could delay the union's strike plan, according to Chen Po-chien (???), a union spokesman.

In response to the pressure, the union said it will hold a strike "rehearsal" after the vote ends to familiarize pilots with the procedure of the strike.

There will be more intensive campaigns to help the pilots fight for their rights legally and address their concerns, the union said.

Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel