China Airlines strike leaves 20,000 stranded

Cabin crew from China Airlines, Taiwan's largest carrier, hold a sit-in to protest against reporting for work at Taoyuan airport on Taipei's outskirts and to call for better working conditions.
Cabin crew from China Airlines, Taiwan's largest carrier, hold a sit-in to protest against reporting for work at Taoyuan airport on Taipei's outskirts and to call for better working conditions.PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

TAIPEI • A strike by staff from Taiwan's largest carrier China Airlines (CAL) left 20,000 passengers without flights yesterday in the first industrial action by cabin crew in the island's aviation history.

The airline was forced to cancel all flights out of the two main airports in the capital Taipei, with the only exception a chartered service for President Tsai Ing-wen who left for a state visit to Panama and Paraguay yesterday morning.

Crowds of passengers queued up at CAL counters in Taipei's Songshan and Taoyuan airports as the airline tried to get them onto different flights.

Hundreds of flight attendants staged a sit-in outside the firm's headquarters in Taipei overnight, protesting against a new requirement that they report for work in Taoyuan - on the outskirts of Taipei - rather than downtown Songshan airport. They say the measure was adopted "unilaterally".

The union is also calling for other improvements to conditions, including double pay for working on national holidays.

The official strike started at midnight. Protesters continued their sit-in outside the CAL office yesterday.

Both the president and the chairman of CAL were replaced on Thursday after tendering their resignations before the strike.

Mr Ho Nuan-hsuan, who was officially approved by the board to be the new chairman yesterday, made an immediate concession, agreeing to reverse the unpopular decision over where flight attendants should report to work.

But the gesture failed to put an end to the sit-in in hot and humid Taipei, as protesters insisted that six other demands also be met.

Flights from the southern cities of Kaohsiung and Tainan were unaffected.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 25, 2016, with the headline 'China Airlines strike leaves 20,000 stranded'. Print Edition | Subscribe