Pilots take Cathay Pacific to court over pay dispute
Aircrew union sues airline for short-changing some 600 pilots on their statutory holiday salary, demanding a payout totalling millions
Cathay Pacific is facing a multimillion-dollar lawsuit, with its pilots accusing it of short-changing them on statutory holiday pay.
The Hong Kong Aircrew Officers Association filed the claims from about 600 of the airline's pilots to the Labour Tribunal last month. It follows September's Court of Final Appeal victory for cabin crew who sued Cathay for failing to give them their full statutory holiday pay.
Dennis Dolan, the association's general secretary, said the union was claiming that Cathay's formula for calculating pilots' statutory holiday pay was unsuitable. "It is not calculated properly. [The airline's] formula does not include all factors that should be considered," he told the South China Morning Post, adding that the airline was looking at a payout totalling "millions".
A Cathay pilot who requested anonymity said the formula did not factor in overtime pay, and that pilots who joined Cathay around 2006 were demanding about HK$50,000 each and captains about HK$200,000.
"What I find sad is that the company benefits so much from Hong Kong - it gets a low tax rate … it gets extremely pro-business labour laws, and yet it does not want to pay anything for all these benefits," the pilot said.
According to the union's newsletter sent to members last month, the method for calculating statutory holiday pay changed after amendments to the Employment Ordinance in 2007, which meant commission payments had to be included in the calculation.
"If the company is not prepared to discuss a means of resolving this issue, it is likely that this will be a long and drawn-out process," the newsletter stated.
In September's ruling, the Court of Final Appeal said certain allowances should be considered in calculating the holiday pay, such as commissions on duty-free sales.
Dolan said the union had discussed the issue with airline representatives. The meeting was "neither positive nor negative", he said, but both parties failed to agree on which factors should be included in the formula. The union was willing to hold talks with the airline ahead of the tribunal, he added.
Meanwhile, the union envisaged the process of filing the claims would take a few more weeks to complete.
A Cathay spokeswoman said: "We are aware of the matter and have already had discussions with the union ... We have not received any notification from the Labour Tribunal."