《TAIPEI TIMES》 Group asks CAA to protect fliers
From left, Taoyuan Flight Attendants’ Union secretary-general Cheng Ya-ling, Far Eastern Air Transport Union Consultant Lin Yun, Taoyuan Flight Attendants’ Union board directors Lin Hsin-yi, Chu Liang-chun, and Su Ying-jung raise their fists during a news conference in Taipei yesterday. Photo: CNA
UPS AND DOWNS: After Far Eastern Air announced on Thursday that it was ceasing operations, its chairman said they would restart, drawing a backlash from critics
By Lo chi, Chien Hui-ju and Dennis Xie / Staff reporters, with staff writer
Chung Hua Premium Tourism Development Association chairman Lee Chi-yueh （李奇嶽） yesterday called on the Civil Aeronautics Administration （CAA） to establish a surety system to better protect consumers’ rights.
The call came after the Thursday announcement by Far Eastern Air Transport Corp （FAT） that it would end all flight operations starting yesterday, due to financial difficulties, although yesterday, FAT chairman Chang Kang-wei （張綱維） said that promised funding would allow the airline to restart operations.
The CAA is not listening to the rising demand for a surety system and its inaction was a dereliction of duty, Lee said, adding that the airline has not learned any lessons from previous cases, such as the dissolution of TransAsia Airways, EVA and China Airlines strikes, and now the abrupt flight suspensions from FAT.
“Why would consumers ever want to fly with an airline that announces flight suspensions one minute and in the next says they will restart?” Taiwan Aviation Education Development Association chairman Wang Cheng-kuang （王正光） said, adding that the incident is a blow to FAT’s reputation.
The FAT incident would affect Lunar New Year travel, the peak season for travel agencies, Wang said.
Separately yesterday, the Taoyuan Flight Attendants’ Union said at a news conference that the airline had a bad maintenance record, multiple incidents of sudden flight suspensions, was involved in misappropriation of funds and violations of labor laws, and had made attempts to take down the union.
The union demanded an amendment to the Act for Worker Protection of Mass Redundancy （大量解雇勞工保護法） to impose criminal liabilities on owners of companies that breach the act, as well as to allow the government the right to investigate and intervene in labor disputes.
To effectively protect employees’ rights, employers who contravene the law should face criminal punishment, instead of the current fine of NT$500,000, union board director Chu Liang-chun （朱良駿） said.
The fine does not affect large corporations and reduces the legal power the regulations have to safeguard workers’ rights, he said, adding that current rules also lack protection on severance pay and labor rights.
Private airlines should also establish a position for labor representatives on their boards of directors, while the government should include violations of labor laws in its evaluation of an airline’s accreditation, the union said.
Regulations should be established regarding an airline’s handling of passenger refunds and compensation, such as setting up a dedicated account for consumer compensation, the union said, adding that it should not need prior notice for an aviation-related strike.