VIDEO: Confessions of a Far Eastern Air Transport Flight Attendant

VIDEO: Confessions of a Far Eastern Air Transport Flight Attendant
Credit: FAT Labor Union

What you need to know

Union members suggest the dispute with airline Far Eastern Air Transport highlights the lack of protections afforded to employees.

A video that accuses Far Eastern Air Transport (FAT) of a litany of management failures including negligence of safety issues and sexism, has gone viral amid an ongoing legal dispute between the airline union and management.

The video, which has garnered almost half a million hits on YouTube, was put together as a last resort by employees fed up at having their complaints and requests for feedback ignored, union officials said.

“We wanted to show the unacceptable conditions we were working under and how the company was passing off blame on staff,” said Linda Wei, 24, secretary general of the Taoyuan Flight Attendants’ Union (TFAU).

The video alleges that flight attendants were repurposed as hostesses at functions, payroll terms were changed without notice or explanation, and that staff complaints over being forced to work in unsafe or poorly maintained aircraft were ignored.

Members of the FAT Labor Union (遠東航空股份有限公司企業工會), which was formed just six months ago, put the video together after seven of its members were fired in early October.

Allie Lu, 25, a flight attendant who has worked at FAT for several years and voices the video, said four of the employees are suing the company via Ministry of Labor tribunal for both illegal dismissal and dismissal without severance.

A group representing their interests also held a press conference Nov. 10 accusing FAT management of sexism and having female staff work as hostesses.

“We were asked to join the election campaign in 2014 during legislative yuan elections,” Lu told The News Lens. “We think that helping with elections is not the job of cabin crew.”

Later the same day, FAT CEO Tseng Chin-chih (曾金池) launched a defamation suit against the union, accusing its members of misrepresentation and spreading false rumors, Taipei Times reported.

At the time of writing, FAT had yet to respond to either a request for comment from The News Lens or the allegations made in the video.

The dispute highlights the lack of protections afforded to employees, even those with a union, according to the TFAU’s Wei.

Asked whether the union was disappointed at the proposed revisions to the Labor Standards Act that would reduce their rest time between shifts to eight hours from 11 hours, Wei and Lu said it would be unlikely to matter.

“FAT will never admit that they have broken the rules and there is a weakness in the enforcement of the law,” Wei said. “We currently have about 10 hours rest. We do worry that we don’t have enough rest time and that our service will suffer.”

“We all really want to keep working and serving people on flights if the company can improve,” she added.

Note: This was published on The News Lens International on Friday, Nov. 17. It was recalled due to an error.