I WISH to explain to all flight attendants, and especially to those who feel I have let them down, the reasons why I returned to duty. First of all, I must explain the circumstances which led to my decision. The FAU operates through an executive committee. It is the executive committee's role to make decisions on all matters related to flight attendants' conditions of service, and in respect of the strike to manage and direct extraordinary affairs. The strike did effectively win three points: to reinstate the three dismissed cabin attendants, to resolve and restore the staffing situation and to agree that the year-end package would be negotiated on ending the strike. But victimisation of FAU members was never a part of the original reason for taking strike action, and was never a concern until the above three points had been resolved. Why did this point surface? Apparently, enforced by rumour and not fact, striking members became obsessed with the thought that management would take disciplinary action against FAU striking members on resumption of duty. This rumour was further enhanced by management's remarks that Cathay Pacific would reserve the right to discipline strikers. When the strike was called, the FAU's legal counsel had implied that flight attendants were legally protected if they refused to operate in a downgraded position. But this statement does contradict the legal conditions of employment for all cabin attendants, which states: if you are employed as a cabin attendant and qualified to operate in any position, the company has the right to ask you to operate in that position for which you are qualified, meaning your present position or even a lesser position if necessary. The FAU's legal counsel misinterpreted and therefore misled the three dismissed colleagues and all crew members of the FAU to believe that we were all protected should we wish to not operate in a downgraded position. Legally, we are entitled to strike and legally we are also subject to disciplinary action for striking - again, a point that was not made clear to members by the FAU executive committee under the guidance of its legal counsel. I think Mr Martin Lee explained clearly that striking members must not take part in any activity that would amount to criminal intimidation. Management's insistance on retaining the clause in the agreement affirming its right to discipline strikers (known as point four) is purely a way of protecting both strikers or non-strikers against such victimisation. This point could not be removed. It is most unfortunate that rumours spread throughout the strikers' camp that management was out to victimise strikers by way of point four. It was becoming apparent that no agreement could have been reached between Mr David Ngan and his team with management. It appears to be obvious that outside opinions were influencing the FAU negotiating team leader, causing him to insist that point four be removed. Myself (although not an FAU executive committee member) and members of the FAU executive committee tried to have the union negotiating team replaced with a new team with which management would have been more flexible. Our attempt to get permission for a new negotiating team was rejected. Negotiating conditions worsened to the point where union and management differences spilled over on to a personal level. The dispute should have remained impersonal, with the intention simply being to seek a resolution clarifying that ordinary strikers were not being lined up for dismissal. The January 27 midnight deadline was set by management for staff to get their February duty roster. It was never a deadline for dismissal. AT THIS point all of the striking members, including myself and most members of the executive council, were still under the misapprehension that we would all be dismissed or subject to severe disciplinary action. Needless to say, rumours were rampant and every striker was living in solidarity and extreme fear. Many attendants reported for duty purely out of fear. Confusion reigned supreme with no clear directive on what would happen to staff when the deadline passed. The afternoon before the deadline was due to expire, counselled by a few active FAU members, it was decided that I use my experience and contacts of almost 20 years with Cathay Pacific to seek clarification on the position of staff in a bid to conclude an acceptable compromise. My first line of action was to prepare a letter addressed to management advising them that all strikers should be included in the February roster. This letter should have been legally acceptable to management and it was also positive step towards reconciliation. I also sought clarification from management regarding its position on disciplinary action. It was confirmed that no strike-breaker had been dismissed or disciplined and that it was not management's intention to do so. But management did want to have the ability to discipline people guilty of intimidating staff on either side of the dispute. Further, I proposed that if management were to be allowed to retain point four, we would be able to add another point to clarify the issue, while acknowledging management's right to Cap.57 of the Employment Ordinance as a standard and normal term in the conditions or employment. The proposed point five was canvassed through the strikers communicators and approved with great excitement. It was immediately agreed that I could contact management again to advise them of this point and that if management expressed a further interest we should track down the executive committee negotiating team and present it to Mr David Ngan, the FAU chairman for revitalising negotiations before the deadline. Management was contacted again and I was advised that the draft for point five was being rushed to the negotiating room. I went to find the executive committee negotiating team and other prominent FAU spokespersons. Unfortunately, talks with management had broken down before either my copy or management's copy could get there. I showed it to the FAU negotiating team that night. Only the FAU chairman and vice-chairman disagreed with this proposal on the grounds that management would not even consider it. But as everyone else in the executive committee and all of the nationality representatives liked the proposal, it was immediately typed up for presentation to management. A new meeting was scheduled for 10 pm - two hours before the deadline. An executive committee member signed the FAU registration letter, which was to be faxed to management in a bid to postpone the deadline. The committee member advised strongly that this should be done without the FAU vice-chairman knowing. It would appear obvious that in the member's views there were other motives behind the vice-chairman continuing the strike. An attempt to send the fax was made but was halted by the vice-chairman who took the letter from the fax machine before it could be sent. She ran away to the FAU bus, leaving us behind. This letter was never presented to other executive committee members or members involved with the negotiating team. After witnessing the vice-chairman's action, I decided my doubts about the vice-chairman, the chairman and the legal counsel were justified. I could not understand why the fax should not be sent as it merely benefitted the well-being of the strikers and the negotiations. I was then informed, that the FAU bus had returned to the Central Government Offices where the vice-chairman and chairman had got off. It then continued to the Caritas Centre for an emergency general meeting at 9 pm with all FAU members. While heading to the Caritas Centre, the executive committee members and leaders who were in support of my actions decided it was imperative that as per FAU regulations, the meeting should be open only to FAU members. THE meeting began about 9.30 pm and the vice-chairman opened the meeting with a statement that the meeting would inform the FAU members of the results of the negotiations that began at 3 pm. It also informed all members that one executive committee member, Ms Rachel Varghese, had resigned from the committee. I then began to explain to the other members the point five proposal in detail. They all initially agreed that it was a good idea and were ecstatic that something positive had been motioned. The vice-chairman interrupted at this point and denied any knowledge of such a proposal and accused me and a few others of trying to reach a secret agreement with management. To calls of spy and traitor from the excited crowd, the vice-chairman then told the crowd I was not an executive committee member and was not authorised to even use the microphone. Before I was able to explain the situation, the crowd had already been manipulated into believing that I was the spy that they had been warned about earlier in the Central Government Office camp. To further explain the purpose of our intentions, Ms Varghese got up to explain that we were not against the chairman and the vice-chairman but were merely giving them some ideas, under the most urgent circumstances, on how we could achieve a resolution to this negotiation. The vice-chairman then told members that any points raised for discussion had to be positive and that they must turn away and ignore any negative discussion. They were told to ignore anything that I had said as negative. Ironically, one member raised the issue of legality. Was the strike legal and were we protected? The vice-chairman reacted angrily and refused to answer the question on the grounds that we had been on strike for two weeks and that it therefore did not matter or not if the strike protection therefore was legal. This split caused confusion and I therefore felt I could no longer convince or represent the present FAU executive committee in the strike. Instantly, I was called a traitor by many members and was told to leave the room. The vice-chairman could not present herself in this argument and had to resort to bringing in an outside non-FAU member - Mr Martin Lee QC to explain unity and solidarity. Mr Lee immediately appeared from behind a curtain where there were also a few other non-FAU members running the show. This clearly indicated the vice-chairman and her team were being influenced and guided by outside bodies. I then had no control over the members on this issue but stepped down as a spokesman and left the vice-chairman and her team to continue on with their decisions. We learnt that the proposal was rejected by management during the evening's negotiations. I was then and am now in favour of industrial action that directly progresses to achieve points one, two and three of the original call for strike as well as a gentlemen's agreement that no striking member would be subject to disciplinary action or victimisation except where a criminal act of intimidation has been imposed. Points one, two and three were achieved long ago, and a compromise on point four - necessitated due to distrust of management by striking members over the issue of disciplinary action - could have been easily achievable. It is my view that throughout the whole ordeal from the first calls for industrial action that all members were misled by the FAU legal counsel. To conclude, the remaining strikers must be admired for their bravery and total commitment to the call for action. I also suspect that certain people with the FAU executive committee are in the position to manipulate the strikers to create public concern in a vain effort to protect their wrong doings at the expense of innocent and victimised flight attendants. I and my colleagues in this ordeal have been called traitors, defectors, spies etc. Throughout this ordeal many people have lost and made friends, been hurt and pressured, stressed and suffered loss of dignity and self-respect. It is most regretful that as a result of all this suffering the FAU has not been able organise and operate within its goals and boundaries and conclude this industrial action in a harmonious manner. There are no winners and no losers. I sincerely hope that this affair may be put behind us and that relations between flight attendants are not damaged beyond repair. The Sunday Morning Post invited both FAU chairman David Ngan and Cathay management to write their version of events. They declined.