Strike may lead to harder attitudes and new laws

Linda Choy

FAILURE to resolve the Cathay Pacific staff dispute could provoke civil disorder in the territory, Legislative Councillors warned yesterday.

But union leaders said the airline cabin crew strike should act as a catalyst for the Government to speed up reform of labour laws.

Legislators' concerns were passed on to the Commissioner for Labour, Mrs Katherine Fok Lo Shiu-ching, during a 11/2-hour meeting where they urged the Labour Department to resolve the dispute as soon as possible.

United Democrats legislator Mr Lee Wing-tat said after the meeting that some members were concerned strikers might take stronger action if they failed to reach an agreement by this morning.

''The failure of the negotiations by midnight may drive the supporting organisations to more rigid actions like protest, marching, or even boycott of the airline flights,'' he said.

''When it comes to this point, it is no longer a mere labour dispute.'' Councillors said that flight attendants charged with intimidating colleagues who refused to join the strike should go before a court of law.

Employee representatives of the Labour Advisory Board reiterated their disappointment at the lack of comprehensive legislation to protect trade union activists.

Representative Mr Leung Fu-wah said the existing law was too vague.


Fellow board member Mr Cheung Kwok-biu said the dispute would have a catalytic effect in persuading the Government to bring about amendments to labour legislation.

He said members would fight to table discussion at the next board meeting in April.

Members last night expressed their discontent with the Government's handling of the Cathay dispute and member Ms Li Fung-ying said the Labour Department had been passive and ineffective.

Some members accused Cathay management of being ''barbarous and stupid'' in insisting on its right to discipline striking workers.