Taipei City to hold talks about JAL dismissal of 18 staffers

2010/07/29

Taiwan News, Staff Writer

Page 2 2010-07-29 10:39 AM

The Taipei City Government said yesterday it would chair negotiations about the dismissal of 18 Taiwanese cabin staff by Japan Air Lines.

The company's Taiwanese office said the layoffs were a normal and legal part of a plan to cut 70 jobs in the country amid the airline's financial problems. JAL filed for bankruptcy protection in Japan last January.

Taipei City labor officials voiced the hope that the dispute would not influence the planned launch of direct flights between Taipei Songshan Airport and Tokyo's Haneda Airport in October. JAL said that after a first round of voluntary retirement offers in June, only 52 out of the total of 142 Taiwanese staff left the company, leaving the need to remove 18 others. The airline reportedly informed a group including the labor union chairman and several officials on Tuesday that they would be made redundant today, though with payment of all the legally required benefits. The company insisted it had followed the regulations set out by the Labor Standards Law, though union leaders disputed the claim.

Taipei City Department of Labor Affairs chief Chen Yeh-shin said the committee discussing the case would have to count five members, two more than usual, because it was not a normal conflict. Usually, management, labor and the relevant government supervisory organization each had to send one representative to the talks, but in this case there would have to be at least one delegate from the Civil Aeronautic Administration, Chen said.

If the labor union at JAL filed the necessary documents in the near future, the discussions might start a week from now, the official said.

"The prime concern will be the defense of the interests of the Taiwanese employees," Chen said.

The union accused the airline of using its financial troubles as an excuse to try and disband the labor organization. The city government will go through diplomatic channels to find out more about the company's situation in Japan, reports said.

In the worst case, the employees could file court action, Chen said, promising financial support for the staff's basic expenses, court costs, and school fees for their children. His department would also mobilize employment agencies to find new jobs for the cabin staff, he said.

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