Cathay Pacific pilots are planning to launch industrial action next month which will see them refuse to work on their days off to stem a crew shortage and could cause flight cancellations. Pilots are expected to vote overwhelmingly in favour of a return to strict contract compliance - under which they must refuse even to answer the phone on their days off - at a union meeting on July 4. The industrial action would take effect a week later, and is aimed at demonstrating pilots' frustration with 'diabolical' rostering and anger at pay cuts that come despite the company's multibillion-dollar profits. 'The pilots want to send a message to the company that they're unhappy, still, with the way things are being done and the message is that by strictly working in accordance with their contract, there's no goodwill coming from the pilots,' one Cathay pilot said. 'If any flights have to be cancelled, it's the company's responsibility because at the moment they're relying on goodwill to get their planes flying. If that goodwill is removed and their planes can't fly, it's their fault, not the pilots'.' Cathay last month asked pilots to trade in some of their annual leave for cash because of a crew shortage. Only a handful are believed to have done so, and pilots say the airline has only been able to maintain its schedule because crew have worked days off in return for between one and 10 days off in future. But their willingness to postpone days off to help the company has evaporated. The July 4 vote will come three days after senior pilots are hit by the second round of pay cuts agreed last year, when the company said it needed to cut costs to remain competitive. Cathay later posted a $2.19 billion net profit for 1999. 'We won't work on our days off, we won't answer the phone - the company's doing nothing for us, why should we do anything for them?' one pilot asked. A similar 'work-to-rule' policy was in force in the 18 months leading up to the resolution of last year's dispute over pay and conditions, which forced the cancellation of more than 1,000 flights when hundreds of stressed pilots rang in sick. It was dropped as a show of good faith when the deal giving senior pilots pay cuts in return for stock options - and pay rises for junior crew - was accepted. The vote will come at a meeting of the Aircrew Officers Association, which represents most of Cathay's 1,400 pilots. Union spokesman John Findlay said members were angry their workload had increased and rosters were often changed, meaning they could not plan family events or rest periods. 'New aircraft have been ordered and that's good news - more pilots will be recruited but it takes time to recruit and train them. Until that happens though, pilots can see no end to the problems caused by the present roster system,' he said. 'Their reason for presenting the motion is to take such action as allowed by their contracts to prevent cumulative fatigue and avoid potential flight safety problems.' Cathay spokeswoman Quince Chong Wai-yan said crew were given an average of 136 days off a year - 44 more than required under their contract - 'on the understanding that we will ask the pilots to work a few of those days if requested'. For the past five months, pilots between them had worked about 150 days off per month. She said Cathay saw the move to reinstate contract compliance as an attempt to renegotiate last year's pay deal rather than a protest over rosters. 'It was a three-year deal and we will be disappointed if this goes ahead.'