Cathay Pacific management must reply by 3pm today on whether it will hold more salary talks or face possible industrial action during the holiday season, a union representing the airline's flight attendants has warned.
The 6,000-strong Cathay Pacific Airways Flight Attendants Union criticised the carrier again yesterday for its unilateral announcement on Friday of a 2 per cent pay rise next year. The union is pushing for 5 per cent.
Union chairwoman Dora Lai said their year-end talks over wages and other related matters had yet to end.
"We are giving CX until 3pm for a reply on whether they will resume the year-end negotiation," Lai said as she led about 200 crew members in a 1-1/2 hour protest at Chek Lap Kok airport.
Cathay reported a HK$935 million loss in the first half, dragged down by sluggish cargo business and falling ticket prices.
The two sides have held six meetings in recent weeks on pay increases and other issues, including the scrapping of a cross-base flying scheme for non-Hong Kong cabin crew that may see local flight attendants gradually replaced.
Lai said that if no reply was forthcoming by 3pm, the union's task force would discuss and decide whether to go ahead with "any actions [such as strikes] during the festive season".
Cathay flight attendants were very supportive of possible industrial action, she said.
About an hour after the protest ended, Cathay's general manager of cabin crew, Liza Ng, met the media. However, she did not answer directly whether the airline would resume talks, or if it could adjust the 2 per cent pay rise.
"The business environment this year has been particularly difficult for the airline industry," Ng said. "We hope that the union and our staff can keep calm when they express their opinions. The most important thing is that they do not cause inconvenience to the public and passengers."
Cathay has been embroiled in public spats with its employees over the years. Last year, the union warned of a work-to-rule action during the Lunar New Year to push for higher wages but eventually called it off.
The last time a union-organised strike took place was in 1993; it lasted for 17 days.