Cathay Pacific

Cathay Pacific unions say no action expected this Christmas season

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 14 November, 2013, 6:13am
UPDATED : Thursday, 14 November, 2013, 6:13am

Holidaymakers could rest easy when planning their Christmas trips this year as it was very unlikely there would be any industrial action, the spokeswoman for Cathay Pacific's cabin crew said yesterday.

"The company has been quiet and cautious about creating any irritating issues to upset employees at year-end," Cathay Pacific Flight Attendants Union chairwoman Dora Lai Yuk-sim said.

The holiday season has long been a tense time for the airline as it is when discussions about annual pay rises for the more than 6,000 cabin crew are discussed between the union and the management. If there are any pay disputes, the airline can be threatened with industrial action.

Last year, the union threatened to hold a work-to-rule over the Christmas travel period and even escalate this to a strike over New Year after the airline offered a 2 per cent pay rise.

The dispute was eventually settled with a deal on working arrangements, after a two-day meeting between representatives from the airline, the union and the Labour Department.

"No actions can be foreseen, it would be hard to initiate any actions without a light to spark anger," Lai told a media lunch.

Union vice-chairman Julian Yau Chi-hung said that flight attendants would get their compensation this month after a lawsuit win in September, where the Court of Final Appeal ruled that Cathay had failed to give them their full statutory holiday pay.

Also most members would get a year-end bonus and "this would lower the incentive for the crews to fight against the company even if they are given a low percentage pay rise," Yau said.

Cathay flight attendants had not gone on strike since the Lunar New Year holiday in 1993, when about 1,000 walked out for 17 days, according to the union. Since then, there had been smaller actions such as working to rule.

The union is collecting opinions from members via online and paper questionnaires on the pay rise, the retirement age and the promotion ladder.

Cathay introduced an early retirement scheme for cabin crew earlier this year as part of "cost management measures", meaning staff will lose the long-service payments they are normally entitled to when they reach the retirement age of 55.