Cathay Pacific pilots yesterday moved closer to a mass 'sick-out' and Christmas industrial action. The threats are in response to alleged procrastination by airline management in resolving the long-running rostering issue. The Hong Kong Aircrew Officers Association yesterday decided to vote on December 13 on possible further action over rostering problems, a statement said. Captain Nigel Demery, association president, said: 'We have been put in a position by the company where we have no choice but to address our concerns and if necessary take action over the vital issue of aircrew rostering.' But the airline said it had made significant concessions. The strike warning came as negotiations were continuing to finalise a new set of roster practices. Seven more meetings had been set to discuss the issue over the next two weeks. 'Over the past year, the [pilots] have been consistently increasing demands concerning overtime pay,' the airline said. The association, representing about 1,100 pilots, said management had failed to meet a December 3 deadline for an interim agreement on rostering. Yesterday's decision came nearly two weeks after a breakthrough in negotiations over contracts. Cathay had backed down on a plan to reduce the salary of four retirement-age captains. But the most controversial issue - the threat of industrial action over the Christmas and New Year period because of anger over rosters - was not resolved at the November 21 meeting. Management had suggested the association negotiate on the disputed rostering procedures which are the subject of a High Court action taken by the pilots. The association said the suggestion was 'completely unacceptable . . . and goes back on what was agreed' at the November 21 meeting. 'It is most regrettable that the management should procrastinate on such an important safety issue, particularly with the Christmas and Chinese New Year holiday seasons upon us,' Captain Demery said. Cathay said the only outstanding issue was on the threshold hours and rates of overtime pay. Its latest proposal is 'almost identical' to that originally asked by the pilots union, it said.