China Airlines flights between Hong Kong and Taiwan are expected to return to normal soon after many of them were canceled in the past few days as the carrier’s pilots went on strike to demand better working conditions.
After four rounds of marathon negotiations that lasted a total of 158 hours, the Taoyuan Union of Pilots said on Thursday night it had reached an agreement with management over its complaints, particularly on overnight flights, and would call off the strike at 10:25 p.m.
The last round, which began at 10 a.m. on Thursday, ended at 8:30 p.m., the Hong Kong Economic Journal reported.
The pilots’ union and the airline said they were working on legal documents to make their agreements firmer and would make further announcements soon, RTHK reported.
The company promised that union members who participated in the strike would not be subject to any punishment.
Aside from pledging additional manpower on long-haul flights, the carrier also agreed not to increase hiring of captains from other nations except for special circumstances and to review the causes of the labor dispute, improve its corporate management culture and increase communication with the union.
As for flight safety bonuses, a separate negotiation will be held on Thursday next week.
Both sides agreed to settle any future disputes through arbitration and mediation, rather than through a strike, over the three-and-a-half years that the collective agreement is valid.
Ho Nuan-hsuan, the airline’s chairman, told media on Friday the airline’s flights will return to normal on Saturday.
The first airline pilot strike in Taiwan was launched at 6 a.m. on Feb. 8 and has since caused serious flight disruptions, with many flights between Hong Kong and Taiwan forced to be canceled.
The pilots’ sudden action also sparked great discontent among China Airlines passengers as it was staged during the Lunar New Year holiday, one of the busiest times of the year.
While the affected flights are expected to gradually resume normal operations, the seven-strike reportedly cost the airline about NT$500 million (HK$127 million, US$16 million).
Welcoming the outcome, Taiwan President Tsai Ying-wen said she believes a rational dialogue would be the best way to solve disputes between employers and employees in the future.
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