Cathay Pacific last night vowed to introduce new rosters to beat a pilots' threatenend work-to-rule. The company proposed restructuring the duty timetable requiring cockpit crew to be on standby, instead of receiving days off on the understanding they may have to cover for absent colleagues. The pilots' union voted overwhelmingly on Wednesday to reinstate a work-to-rule, protesting what they say is airline under-staffing and cost-cutting. Similar action caused the delay or cancellation of 80 flights last December, the Hong Kong Aircrew Officers' Association claimed. The airline denies schedules during the busy handover and summer periods will be disrupted. The company conceded cockpit crews were required to work on days off more often in 1996, because the introduction of new aircraft meant extra training was needed. But the company said the situation had eased and accused the pilots of trying to influence ongoing pay negotiations. Captain Ken Barley, Cathay's director of flight operations, said last night the new rosters would put more pilots and flight engineers on reserve duty. 'It's an unpopular task among aircrew because they have to be contactable at all times and ready to drop everything to be at the airport immediately,' he said. 'It will affect a lot of people and I don't understand why they are doing this.' Captain Barley said cockpit crew who opposed the union's work-to-rule would be rostered with the maximum possible number of days off, provided they were prepared to work them if necessary. They would have to identify themselves to management. Cathay spokesman Charlie Stewart-Cox denied the offer was aggressively designed to split the union. 'An aggressive move is the refusal to work one's days off when it's not an onerous task. We have been painted into this situation,' he said. The pilots' union general secretary, John Findlay, said attempts to discuss staffing and safety concerns with the airline had failed. He said pilots' working hours were often close to legal limits and denied the work-to-rule was a pay-bargaining ploy.