Dragonair cabin crew members are backing industrial action by their union if their complaints about "chaotic rostering" and perceived threats to their income and promotion prospects from the opening of a Beijing base are not resolved.
Priscilla Mok Oi-shan, chairwoman of the Dragon Airline Flight Attendants Association, said 400 of the union's 1,200 members attended a special meeting on Tuesday where they discussed the two topics.
"The members agreed that we need to talk to management about it. If we cannot reach a consensus with management, they support going ahead with further action," she said.
At the centre of the controversy is what Mok described as "chaotic rostering". She said many crew members had to take same-day return shifts six days in a row, an exhausting process as it left them only about six hours of rest at home between shifts, after travelling to and from the airport.
Another problem, Mok said, was that the airline was recruiting 20 flight attendants from Beijing for a new base there, after having already set up bases in Shanghai and Hangzhou . "When the advertisement was [published] … it said the airline needed to hire people from Beijing because it had failed to find quality people in Hong Kong. But what do they mean they can't find quality people," she asked.
A bigger problem, she said, was that hiring flight attendants from Beijing meant local crews would have to take more same-day return trips. They would thus not get as many out-port allowances - about HK$500 each time a crew member stays overnight away from their home base - as they did now.
Local crews' promotion prospects could also be affected, Mok said. Sister airline Cathay Pacific's mainland crew took only two to three years to get promoted, compared with more than 10 for local crew. Mok said she would seek meetings with the airline management soon.
A Dragonair spokesman said airlines were international businesses serving customers from different parts of the world. "Our customers will benefit from the availability of Beijing-based crew, with the advantage of language proficiency and cultural background, serving the Beijing flights," he said.