EVA Air Flight Attendant Strike Comes To An End

Filed Under: EVA Air, Unions

EVA Air has been having significant operational issues lately, due to a labor dispute between management and flight attendants. The flight attendants have been on strike for over two weeks, and this led to about 2,250 flights being canceled.

For a while it looked like neither party was willing to budge. Then about a week ago management and the union mostly agreed on terms, though the union was concerned that management would retaliate against those involved in the strike, and that delayed a resolution even further.

EVA Air and the Taoyuan Flight Attendants Union have reached an agreement, so the strike will officially end on July 10, 2019 (it’s interesting that the strike doesn’t end with immediate effect). With this, management has agreed not to retaliate against those involved in the strike, which was the key to finalizing an agreement.

The new measures that were agreed upon will take effect on January 1, 2020. The flight attendants have agreed not to have another strike for at least three years, so hopefully this kind of a situation doesn’t repeat itself through July 2022, at a minimum.

While the strike officially ends on July 10, it’s expected that it will take until the end of July for operations to fully return back to normal.

This strike involved provisions of an on-duty bonus, human resources arbitration, flight optimization, and restrictions on the scope of future strikes.

It’s good to see that the two sides could eventually reach an agreement, because a 17 day strike sure is a long time (and in reality the impacts go way beyond that, given further disruptions this is causing).

Thousands of flights have been impacted, and as usual public opinion on the issue has been mixed — some support what the workers wanted, while others were frustrated to have their travel plans disrupted.

I guess that still pales in comparison to the ongoing action of American’s mechanics, since that has spanned months and isn’t even officially a strike.

Comments
  1. If this went on another day, my flight home woulda been cancelled. Thankful both sides managed to reach a lasting agreement

  2. They didn’t end the strike immediately because the union took away the travel documents (passport, mainland China travel permit, work ID) of flight attendants that joined the strike. According the union, it’ll take three days to return the flight attendant’s travel documents and for them to be able to start working again.

  3. “I guess that still pales in comparison to the ongoing action of American’s mechanics, since that has spanned months and isn’t even officially a strike.”

    Ha? You had a couple of flight delays and its worse than 2500+ flights all over the world being cancelled? Are you joking?

  4. Very odd. There are lots of EVA flight attendants on Instagram. Some post their names. Others post only a username and blur their name tags. They usually post glamorous photos of their travels. Some of it is a show because one never posts pictures of her husband but he appears on video on rare occasions.

    With strike related content, they never post it. However, they post strike content, like their participation in demonstrations, in temporary videos (the red circle around their avatar) that stay online only a day.

    Maybe they don’t want a permanent photo on Instagram?

  5. Hello Lucky,
    I am a long time reader and wanted to message about asking if you could cover this topic when Eva Management didn’t want to do any negotiation.

    Overall, Eva Management wants to eliminate the union with this event. It was reported that Eva is willing to lose $160m to get rid of the Union, and the strategy includes buying media for fake news, and continued to send threatening messages to crews on strike. Below is a video link of Eva Management stating that “Yes, I am a dictator. I need to use authoritarian power to discipline all of you. If it wasn’t for the effort of the founder, you think you have the opportunity to wear this uniform and walk pridefully around the world? Watch out, I will discipline you when the strike is over.”

    https://youtu.be/TbSzKJDMDuY

    If you look at the negotiation topics, most of those is in hope to eliminate authoritarian management. Diamond and Gold members, inflight Manager, and any office managers can complain about a flight attendant, and the rule is that flight attendants will be disciplined without any hearing. This is why a few months ago, the flight attendant knew if she didn’t wipe the passenger’s ass, she would be fired, and this did it.

    Other incidents that led up to this strike include:
    1. A flight attendant was locked in a small room, forced to watch porn by Management, because the girl in the film looked like her. Management forced her to confirm she didn’t make the video, and asked her details of if she had a white boyfriend, what did she do during her layover in Amsterdam. She was then required to file a report of this incident even though she wasn’t in the porn.

    2. Eva has been famous that it flies during typhoon when all airlines cancel the flights. They claimed they wanted to ensure timeliness of flight, but reality is that airplanes on ground isn’t making money. Flight attendants had no choice over flying or not. Pilots are also forced to fly in small 10 minute windows when the wind is right under operation limits. Flight attendants were told to arrive at work on time, yet, company made hen wait in the lobby not allowing them to badge in for few hours because otherwise these flight attendants would be timed out.

    Eva Air successfully put Taiwanese and the media on their side. And the only hope now is sharing the incident outside of Taiwan where labor rights are more established. Only 7% of labors in Taiwan are in union, and only 1.3 strikes annually take place in Taiwan.

    I therefore kindly requests you to cover this if possible. Thank you!

  6. @Keke Traveler
    That’s one way to look at it.

    The other is that the union is looking for compensation that’s above average when compared to other airlines, adjusted for PPP. Eva Air was willing to discuss adjusting per diem, but wanted the union to give actual numbers to justify the increase. This happened multiple times and the union was never able to give any answer, let alone one based on math and logic.

    The public isn’t dumb, there’s a reason why the union had so little public support compared to China Airline’s pilot strike, and it’s more than just “because EVA paid the media”.

  7. @David
    Thanks for the insight from the other side.

    Only two of the eight items are related to better financial compensations. The remainder are to resolve management issues. The reason of having better financial compensations is to serve as a driver to encourage people to join the union (only union members can enjoy the benefit), which is a mechanism to push the real issues – the other six management issues. On average, China airlines crew get $300 more per month. There are different options to improve overall salary, it can be base salary, it can be allowances based on number of days spent out-station. The union chose per diem because it seems to be the most fair option, the more you fly, the more you get. The increase in per diem isn’t because “it’s not enough.” It’s just one of the many choices to improve overall salary. The union ended up agreeing on another mechanism, a “safety allowance” based on legs of flight, which is the same in spirit.

    The majority of the eight topics are related to management, to ensure unfair discipline doesn’t happen, and worsening of working conditions do not happen. Some of Eva Air’s TPE-SFO flight involve 3-day work from badge in to badge out in Taipei headquarter, whereas Lufthansa or KLM, of similar flight hours, they spend 2 to 3 nights at the destination. Eva’s tickets aren’t cheaper than Lufthansa or KLM’s, yet these western airlines pay their flight attendants much better even though their labor costs are higher. This is because unions are well developed in these countries.

    I am very proud of these Eva Flight attendants for fighting for better working conditions and better salaries. This is just like any of us when we negotiate our salaries with our boss.

  8. @David
    I think it’s more likely that labor costs are higher because Western flight attendants are paid more. It’s also, I think, true that despite higher pay, the service on Asian airlines are just plain better, on average. Unrestrained unions lead to more overhead and lower quality of service so everything should always be in moderation.

    I don’t object to unionization, but I think the unions representation EVA FAs have been absolutely terrible. They were never able to hone in on a consistent and reasonable line of argument (I keep hearing different reasons for the strike: some say low pay, some claim safety issues, some claim management trying to destroy unions), and they purposely chose a time which would maximize damage.

    If you want maximum impact for your cause, fine. But then you owe it to everyone to do your homework first and make sure what you’re putting out there is coherent, and something people can get behind. They failed miserably at that, and that’s not EVA management’s fault.

  9. @David
    Exactly, the flight attendants have no experience. They are just labors that have no clue how to fight against big global corporations with lots of $$ and resources. Eva Air, on the other hand, has the best lawyers, union-response-experts, politicians, media, etc.

    That’s the reality, the union is naive. They thought that when they were invited by the CEO, the CEO was ready to listen to their positions, and didn’t bring a lawyer with them. It turned out that the flight attendant representatives walked into a room with CEO surrounded by all the Eva Air negotiators, and the CEO told them this was the only negotiation, take it or Eva Air would fire everyone.

    Again, naive and do not know how to organize a strike, but I am sure they learned some lessons. Just like any job, it comes with experiences!

  10. Ben, I suspect the comments here are going to become a war between prounion and antiunion trolls. But I will still give my two cents here as I grew up in Taiwan and have used Eva whenever convenient in the pas 19 years during good times and bad times. I did watch the negotiation that triggered the strike and it was very clear that the two mandatory items that union leader wanted had not much to do with work conditions. Those are “increase hourly per diem rate to $5 USD from $3” and “all negotiated benefits cannot be given to non-union members”(the same very debated free rider provision as in thr US”). They started the strike on TV when they could not get those. I would say the union leaders poorly represented the flight attendants for doing so and might have done so to strengthen the union.(you could say that they wanted a much more powerful union to push other topic in the long run, maybe) Because of this overall public opinion in Taiwan is generally very against the union(not the flight attendants) In the end the union caused the flight attendants to lose their bonuses and raises for 2019 because the chance of Eva turning a good profit this year is quite slim. They now claim they have won because they successfully caused Eva to lose money. In my opinion that is a very poor representation and I feel bad for the flight attendants who believed in the union leaders.

  11. Lucky,
    My July 20th award segment from ORD-TPE was just cancelled due to the strike. The entire one-way itinerary was MCO-ORD-TPE-DPS, but only the long segment was canceled. My wife and I booked in business using Mileage Plus miles. We were never notified of the change, but when I logged in to view the itinerary this evening, the ORD-TPE segment was completely gone. Will EVA or United be the ones to help re accommodate us? Do you have any advice on how to handle this? We’re very worried because of a non-refundable hotel stay our first three nights in Bali. Thank you!

  12. @Joe EZ
    I recommend you to first contact Eva Air in US, and request MCO-IAH/SFO/LAX/SEA-TPE-DPS. It is best if you could log onto United and see if there are existing award availabilities before you make the call. Even if there are no awards Sears available, it doesn’t hurt to ask for a specific routing you and the flights you want. You should request Eva Air to change the flights not operated by Eva Air as well, since it is their fault that caused the itinerary to have to be changed.

    If Eva Air US isn’t helpful, try calling the Taipei reservation phone. They typically work during evenings in the US.

    Only contact United if you are having serious trouble working with Eva Air.

    Good luck! I hope you enjoy the Taiwanese hospitality!

  13. And it’s only just now they decided to employ male cabin crew. As discrimination is still permitted in Taiwan

  14. @icarus, that’s great to hear. I recall that would help a lot in terms of what happened a few months ago with the wiping incident (better for a male flight attendant to do that to a male passenger.)

  15. very disappointed in EVA as a whole. i think it’s pretty shameful the EVA ambushed both the company and passengers with a guerilla strike without even a notice or heads up

  16. Well I would strike too if I had to wipe my passengers in the bathroom, wouldn’t we all?

    (post from a few months ago)

  17. @AVL it is not EVA that started the strike without warning. Its an outside external union which started the strike after not getting $5/hour per dim and no free rider provisions.
    That is said the union leaders and some members are still very hawkish. One FA(the one asked to wipe a passenger, though didnt actually do it) threatened in LINE app to “add stuff to an anti union pilot’s meal and passengers’s meals”, and will bully EVA FAs who did not participate in the strike. She has been suspended her FA duty by EVA and someone reported her to FAA. EVA is not perfect but I think the external union is much worse. EVA FAs are mostly victims actually.

  18. @David2

    I strongly suspect that you are one of the Eva Air management, or the media company hired by Eva Air.
    “External Union” is a term invented by Eva Air and China Airlines. I am working in the US, and my union is based on regions and occupation. My company does not have “Corporate-Owned Union”, and I am not aware of “External Union” being anything alarming. Boeing engineers are in SPEEA (Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace), nothing related to Boeing. Boeing mechanics are in IAM (International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers), again nothing related to Boeing. “External Union” is a term that apparently is able to sway public opinion in Taiwan where union-knowledge is weak.

    There are many fake news (just like how there are evidences that Russians use fake news to sway US Presidential election) regarding the flight attendants. Since you are spreading this information, you must know this is not fake news, and therefore this indicates that you are working in Eva Air management and have seen clear evidences that Eva Air has suspended this crew.

    In regards to “spit in the pilot’s food,” there are full snap shots of the actual conversation, it is a response to the pilot threatening the flight attendants participating in the strike. Pilot’s threat is causing flight attendants’ stress and can impact safety performance for crews, yet Eva Air is only tackling one party – the flight attendant. A company that is taking side in employee conflict, how do you trust its management in flight safety?

    You mentioned that you don’t understand why the flight attendants are cheering for success, given they lost their bonus. This shows that you obviously do not understand the spirit of union, nor understand the main goal of this strike. As I mentioned before, getting monetary improvement is a mechanism to attract participation in the union. The main goal is to improve dictatorship-style management. The strike improved these, and therefore the union considered this as a success. At the end of the strike, there are still 2060 crews participating, more than half of the Taiwan-based crews. There are more pro-union flight attendants that are scared to participate. The “Union is trapping crews” has been proven as another “slogan” invented by Eva Air. People with connections with the flight attendants all know that the support remains strong.

    What is wrong with asking for more pay? When I get a new job offer, I negotiate with my employer for more than what market salary, and we negotiate to a number that is acceptable by both parties. When I get a promotion, I ask for more pay. When I get extra responsibilities, I definitely ask for more pay. And I think all US-based readers here do similar.

    Taiwan’s public unfortunately equates “asking for more pay” as “greedy.” And this really came from Asian culture. This is why Eva Air management kept requesting “Give me evidence that you don’t have enough to spend, then I will give you more.” Your pay isn’t because you are at poverty line. You get paid because you provide work that worth the money.

    If you aren’t a flight attendant in Eva Air, you can never relate the actual work load, emotional stress, and opportunity cost. Therefore, you have no right to accuse them of how much they are worth.

    People go on a revolution when a country is corrupt. Similarly, workers go on a strike when the company is corrupt.
    No one would want to go without pay and risk losing their stable incomes, unless it is to the point that is unbearable.
    This is a US-based blog, with a majority of readers from the US. If your employee forces to watch a porn to prove you weren’t in the porn, I think everyone of you will support this strike.

  19. This union has had 4 strike votes and 3 strikes in the last 3 years, that is quite a bit. As for this current strike, the ends did not justify the means. It was very disrupting and for what? Some of the demands (no free rider provision, seat on the board of directors, changes on any work terms must be agreed to by union) were more to empower the union, and raise the union members as better or above non union members. The final terms agreed to on per diem and overnight was more or less what Eva proposed prior to the strike. People are not against unions, just raised quite a few eyebrows on how this union and its leaders handled the whole situation.

    As for asking for more pay, there is nothing wrong with that. There is also nothing wrong with an employer asking for reasons for the increased pay (more work? increased work expenses?). But you shouldn’t stop working just because you didn’t get exactly what you asked for.

    On the butt wiping incident, Eva banned the passenger. They found out the passenger passed away when trying to locate him to refund his ticket.

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