Cathay Pacific

Cathay flight attendants to work-to-rule over pay

PUBLISHED : Monday, 10 December, 2012, 1:07pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 12 December, 2012, 4:38pm

The Cathay Pacific Flight Attendants Union said on Monday that it would to take industrial action over a pay dispute with the airline company’s management.

The union said after a general meeting that union members would begin a policy of work-to-rule at first, and would only go on strike as a last resort should the company refuse to listen to them.

Union chairman Dora Lai Yuk-sim declined to further discuss the group’s strategy, saying the union would announce the date of action at a time it deemed appropriate.

The union also promised to use an emergency fund to defray any expenses resulted from the industrial action.

Lai said it was forced to take action because of the unilateral decision of the management on pay adjustment.

Earlier on Monday, Cathay's flight attendants’ union called for Hongkongers’ support in its stand-off with the airline, in newspaper adverts published on Monday morning.

The ads appeared in at least two Chinese-language newspapers, before the union held an emergency general meeting on Monday afternoon to decide whether to take industrial action.

The ads explain the 6,000-strong Cathay Pacific Airways Flight Attendants Union’s disappointment with the airline’s offer of a 2 per cent pay rise, and offers a “sincere apology” for any inconvenience industrial action may cause.

They also call on the airline to resume negotiations about the pay rise and other matters.

“Cathay Pacific’s pay adjustment has always been an index for companies in Hong Kong,” the advert says. “The pay rise announced is way below inflation, which means it is taking the lead to bring down the pay rise that Hong Kong workers will get.”

The union also expressed concern that a cross-base flying scheme for non-Hong Kong cabin crew will see local flight attendants gradually replaced by the cheaper non-Hong Kong crew.

“If the Cathay Pacific management continues to turn a deaf ear to our demands, so that we are forced to take [industrial] actions, we sincerely apologise for any inconvenience that may cause to the passengers,” the advertisement reads.

Cathay Pacific 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 union-organised strike was in 1993 and lasted 17 days.

Former union chairwoman Becky Kwan Siu-wa called on union members to unite. “It’s time to show the company that the union members are united,” she said on Monday.

She fears the union will weaken its bargaining power by threatening, but not taking, industrial action. It has done that several times already, she noted.

Cathay reported a HK$935 million loss in the first half, dragged down by sluggish cargo business and falling ticket prices.