HUNDREDS of Cathay Pacific cabin crew face what their union leaders say are either wage cuts or redundancies next year, it was revealed last night. In a confidential letter to crew members dated December 16 and obtained by the Sunday Morning Post, all flight attendants who joined before September 1996 are encouraged to choose either a 3.5 per cent wage increase for extra work hours or voluntary redundancies, before January 16. Workers can also choose a third option of a salary freeze at 1998 levels with no increased workload, but that was followed by a veiled threat of lay-off in the letter. 'Although the company has pledged to do its utmost to avoid introducing compulsory redundancies, in the event of doing so, individual performance and comparative productivity are factors that may be taken into account in determining which staff are to be let go,' said the letter, signed by flight services general manager Tom Wright. Cathay has more than 4,000 flight crew members, but it was not clear last night how many joined before September 1996. In return for the guaranteed salary rise, crew members will have to work 76 hours a month, instead of 72. The annual hours will be raised to 798 hours from 760 hours. Cathay's Flight Attendants Union warned the extra hours, coupled with a new formula for calculating overtime above 76 work hours, translated into a real wage reduction of nine to 15 per cent. It further argued the 3.5 per cent was no salary rise but an annual wage adjustment to which staff were automatically entitled. 'For every year that you work for the company, you are supposed to go up one grade in the salary scale. The difference between one grade to the next in the salary scale is roughly equal to 3.5 per cent,' the union said in a circular to crew members. 'The company has been going after our thresholds [work hours] for years and years. It wants to hold you to the new threshold forever, and if you give in now, they are getting it from you for free!' Cathay's management refused to comment last night. 'There are discussions but there is no redundancy plan. We have no comment or announcement to make,' a company spokesman said.