Cathay Pacific

Cathay pilot union decides against industrial action

Christmas disruption averted after group agree to further negotiations over pay rises next year

PUBLISHED : Monday, 09 December, 2013, 6:37am
UPDATED : Monday, 09 December, 2013, 6:37am

Cathay Pacific passengers can breathe a sigh of relief after the airline's pilot union decided against launching a work-to-rule action over the Christmas period in response to a pay dispute.

Pilots who asked not to be named told the Post they were angry that the airline was awarding its cabin crew a 4.5 per cent pay rise next year but not offering any increase to pilots.

They said they were disappointed that the Hong Kong Aircrew Officers Association, which represents 1,900 pilots, had not chosen to launch a work-to-rule action to pressure the airline.

A work-to-rule is a form of industrial action whereby employees do no more than the minimum required by the rules of their contracts.

In a letter to its 1,900 members last week, the association's general secretary Dennis Dolan wrote that Cathay was insisting the association not declare "contract compliance", a type of work-to-rule in which pilots would refuse to work if they were called in on rostered days off.

"The company wishes us to suspend the current [contract compliance] motion and continue with comprehensive 'good faith' negotiations, with meetings taking place today and during a week-long session beginning January 6," he wrote.

The association had earlier been authorised by its members to declare contract compliance if it received an "inadequate response" from the airline about a pay demand for an undisclosed amount. The association had set the deadline for November 28.

Despite the decision not to launch the action, the airline has made no promise of a pay rise. It has said any increases agreed in coming talks would be backdated by four months, but no further back than January 1 next year. The association's general committee voted to accept the offer.

"Judging from responses on [union] message boards, there is a lot of anger and I still would not rule out any type of work-to-rule action," one pilot said.

A Cathay spokesman said: "Communication with the pilots in Hong Kong remains ongoing. We have agreed to commence discussions on salary arrangements and other matters of mutual interest early next year. Meanwhile, we continue to operate our flight services as usual."