As a massive cabin crew strike at Taiwanese airline EVA Air enters its fourth day, the carrier has today announced plans to hire male cabin crew for the first time in its 30 year history. The announcement comes as EVA Air attempts to break a deadlock with the Taoyuan Flight Attendants’ Union which said earlier today that 2,000 members of cabin crew were now part of the strike action.
It seems crazy that in today’s world an airline would still think it’s acceptable to have such sexist employment practices although among Asian carriers EVA Air certainly isn’t alone. In recent research, it was revealed that just 1% of cabin crew at both Japan Airlines and ANA were men. There are a number of other airlines that have female-only recruitment policies for cabin crew.
However, EVA Air faced much scrutiny in January when a “predatory” male passenger apparently demanded female cabin crew clean his bottom. At the time, the union demanded EVA Air do more to protect the all-female cabin crew workforce as a number of other horrifying stories involving the same passenger came to light.
EVA Air allegedly refused to ‘blacklist’ the passenger despite numerous reports about his behaviour. The man died from natural causes several months later.
The airline has been forced to cancel hundreds of flights after cabin crew walked out on Thursday afternoon. Thousands of passengers have been left stranded and EVA Air says the strike action is costing it at least $1 million USD a day. Flight bookings have been closed until at least 30th June as negotiations between the two sides continue.
EVA Air appears to be taking a hardline approach to the negotiations and has so far refused to concede to demands by the union for improvements in ad diem payments and overnight rest on certain flights. To make matters worse, the union now says a number of cabin crew have been stranded in Vienna since the strike action started.
As a condition of repatriating them back to Taiwan, the union says EVA Air has told the crew they must sign a contract whereby they would agree not to go on strike. The crew have so far declined to sign the agreement and now there are rumours that EVA Air could withdraw their hotel accommodation.
EVA Air has also said it would sue the union over extra demands they have added to the dispute. Complicating matters is a ‘no hitch-hikers’ demand the union has added, which means that only members of the union would benefit from increased pay that they have negotiated.
So far, it doesn’t look like the strike is going to end anytime soon. There’s no timeframe of when male cabin crew will be hired although initially, it looks like men will be recruited internally.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.