EVA Air attendants strike halts flights for 1,000s in Taiwan

A strike by EVA Air flight attendants has left thousands of passengers from Taiwan's second-largest airline scrambling for alternatives

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- A strike by flight attendants at EVA Air, Taiwan's second-largest airline, has left thousands of passengers scrambling for alternative transport.

Local media reported more than 100 flights were being canceled and almost 20,000 passengers would be affected on the first three days of the strike, which began Thursday afternoon after negotiations broke down. The airline operates about 80 international flights daily and its domestic operations were not affected.

About 100 union members staged a sit-in outside the airline's suburban Taipei headquarters Thursday night to press their demands.

"I urge EVA Air to solve our problems and take care of our demands," union member Chao Chieh-huan said.

On its Twitter feed, the airline said it was "working closely with concerned authorities, fellow airlines, and travel agencies to arrange alternative flights for passengers and doing all we can to reduce delays."

"This untimely labor action will significantly impact and inconvenience our passengers, our flight attendants' fellow employees and the travel industry," the airline said. Updates were being published on a strike response website and passengers could also call the airline's reservation center.

Union members have demanded a raise in daily allowances and an end to a practice in which non-union members enjoy the same benefits as members.

Management has said daily allowances are already higher than those offered by competitors and barring non-union members who do the same work from enjoying equal benefits would harm safety and morale.

EVA Air Chief Executive Vice President Ho Ching-sheng addressed union members, but showed little inclination toward compromise.

"We understand that many flight attendants are involved because of peer pressure and we urge those flight attendants to think about what they have done. They should understand that it's not appropriate to do so."

Earlier this year, pilots at Taiwan's largest carrier, China Airlines, went on strike for seven days over benefits and working conditions before reaching an agreement with the mediation of the transport and labor ministries and the vice premier.