• Tue
  • Dec 23, 2014
  • Updated: 11:02am
Cathay Pacific
NewsHong Kong

Work-to-rule protest looms at Cathay Pacific amid deadlock over pay

Pilots' union sends letter to members in preparation for industrial action

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 30 August, 2014, 4:30am
UPDATED : Saturday, 30 August, 2014, 3:00pm

Cathay Pacific passengers should brace for possible industrial action after the association representing cockpit crew stepped up its preparations for a work-to-rule protest.

The Hong Kong Aircrew Officers Association recently sent a letter to its 1,900 members, telling them what they should do and be aware of in the event of a work-to-rule, or contract compliance, sources close to the union say.

"Basically all the newsletter says is follow your contract, no more, no less. Contract compliance is in essence the withdrawal of goodwill, something that the company has been relying on for far too long without acknowledging it," a source said.

In September last year, about 90 per cent of the association's members voted for a motion that authorised it to press ahead with industrial action if the airline did not give a satisfactory reply to the association's undisclosed pay rise demands. But the association decided against the action and started talks with the airline around the end of last year.

The airline has a total of about 2,900 pilots.

General secretary Chris Beebe said the union would continue to engage in discussions with the airline and that no conclusion had been reached.

"It is our job to make sure that pilots have some sort of stability in life," he said, adding that Cathay had not set a deadline on the talks.

A source close to the negotiations said the airline's offer was "not within spitting distance" of what the association was demanding.

But the airline's exact offer and the association's demands remain unclear as both sides have agreed on confidentiality.

A work-to-rule means that the pilots would work according to what their contract requires. For example, pilots would refuse to work on rostered days off.

A source said that many pilots, especially the junior ones, were being called in on days off two or three times a month, disturbing their time with friends and family.

Another source said the impact of a work-to-rule on passengers would be "significant", especially in unexpected situations such as a typhoon, because Cathay did not have enough pilots on standby.

Flight cancellations and delays could be expected if the actions eventually took place, the source said.

An airline spokesman said that the negotiations were continuing.

"Both parties have also agreed that no action will be taken whilst this process is ongoing. Cathay Pacific has complied with, and will continue to comply with, the obligations of confidentiality during the negotiating process as agreed to in the 'good faith bargaining framework agreement'," he said.

The association threatened work-to-rule action in 2010, but decided not to go ahead with it when a 12.3 per cent raise was offered over three years.

The last work-to-rule, in 2001, led to the sacking of 49 pilots in one day.


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This article is now closed to comments

Those naughty pilots threatening to work to the terms and conditions agreed in their contracts, how dare they be so selfish!
It is misleading to say that the pilots have had 12.3 per cent raise over three years, in fact a number have had a pay reduction. The total salary computation is based upon how much a pilot flies. Cathay has granted unconditional pay rises to all other staff except the pilots, no other group of staff has long protracted negotiations.
Working to your contracted terms is not industrial action, nor is the removal of goodwill, nor is declining to working on your day off or during your annual leave. It is unfortunate that Ms Sui cannot deliver this factually.
All businesses especially those victim to weather need flexibility and staff re rostering to cope. Most professionals such as Police, Fire Service and nursing take it within their stride, others whinge and hold out their hand. The CX Pilots who are already well paid by international standards will lose the sympathy of the public in a city recognised for it's hard work and "get on with it attitude"
Covert threats of disruption will make them no friends & remember what happened to the 49ers. Many of them never worked again at international carriers having been labelled firebrands.
Open up HK airspace and airport; let the big 5 Chinese carriers dump hundreds of thousands of seats here, and their many thousands of Chinese Pilots - qualified to fly A380s and 787s Dreamliner, even newer and more advanced trained than Silly legacy contracts here.
Also let Air Asia swamp here with hundreds of their 320s.
With this, the CX pilots will obediently go back to work, with their heads down.
HK and the travelling public cannot be held by ransom like this over and over.
Cathay Pacific Pilots (yes the majority are expats) have been keeping this show on the road for three years while trying to get salaries adjusted for the massive rise in the cost of living in HK. Many of the public don't realise that literally dozens of Pilots every day extend duties, work overtime, come in early, except last minute changes & work on their days off to help keep the airline on time & free of flight cancellations, whilst never compromising their unparalleled safety record. In many cases Pilots have major, last minute disruptions to their family & personal lives. Their loyalty to the airline is mostly unseen by the public, but it is strong & consistent & nearly always goes unnoticed & unrecognised. It is only fair that they withdraw their goodwill when their management treat them like fools.
The pilots are not telling the public or the company they will not fly their assigned flights, there should be absolutely no disruption to any flight. There is no industrial action planned, the author of the article misrepresented the facts.
Cathay routinely delays freighter flights a day or two to get additional freight onboard, and routinely change aircraft types on a flight. This disrupts the schedules of the crew that were assigned to fly them, and then expect the pilots to work on their days off or annual leave to meet these new schedules. These are not rare one off events, it could happen over 100 times a month, which could impact over 10% of the employees every month.
What is being withdrawn is unpaid good will that the company relies on to crew flights on the pilots days off or annual leave, Cathay uses this goodwill to replace pilots that were originally assigned or are on standby to cover unforeseen events to save money.
These negotiations have been going on for a long time, they are being held behind closed doors in a confidential setting. Under the terms of the negotiating framework laid down by the company the pilots are not informed of the progress or items being discussed.
There should be absolutely no disruption to any scheduled flight, no industrial action is planned. However if Cathay makes changes, it may find the goodwill lacking.
It's very fortunate Cx has so many partner airlines nearby- with lots of extra aircrafts and capacity. Should all this rubbish boil up over the holiday season again- they will call these foreign flown aircrafts in.
The public is fed up of this bs over and over again. And I hope our government if not the Central government ( with more power) puts a stop to this; enough is enough as many of these workers aren't even locals.
Haha what a spanner, look up the word sarcasm please. Jeez.
1. No other employer in Hong Kong than Cathay Pacific is in the news so often because of disputes with their employees. Since it always needs two to tango, they must have difficult employees as well as a management not being the most capable to handle their employees satisfactorily.
2. Shareholders must question the capability and suitability of the top management if the company has difficulties to operate normal and without interruption because its employees simply follow the very contract the company drafted and signed as well as the rules laid out by the authorities (for the sake of everybody's safety)
wow pjp, you sound you like you must be a joy to serve at a restaurant or on board any flight with your "entitled, i want an upgrade, recline my seat - me first and i'm so selfish" attitude. get lost and go order a grande cafe mocha chino latte with half cream half cold milk stirred slightly with syrup no sugar, chocolate sprinkles and a dash of cinnamon



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