Cathay Pacific pilots have no alternative but to engage in major industrial action despite the aviation downturn, a US-based labour relations consultant says. Marty Levitt - a former corporate 'union buster' who changed sides - said Cathay's failure to grasp a recent union peace initiative in the dispute over pay and rostering showed the airline had no intention of negotiating in good faith. 'The obsession . . . to crush this union has reached a point that until, and unless, the union simply shuts down the airline matters are going to get worse,' he said. Mr Levitt was hired by the Aircrew Officers' Association earlier this year to address members in Hong Kong and remains in contact, but is not currently being retained by the union. 'I don't know if they will [take major industrial action]. What I feel is that they should,' he said. The general secretary of the Aircrew Officers' Association, John Findlay, said pilots would meet on December 12 to consider their options - including the prospect of re-starting industrial action. The union recently suspended its work-to-rule campaign and dropped a demand for 53 sacked pilots to be reinstated, as the airline had asked, but Cathay demanded an end to 'blacklisting' of new recruits as a further pre-condition to talks. Mr Findlay did not wish to comment on Mr Levitt's strike call but noted that the United States offered striking workers more protection than Hong Kong. A spokeswoman for Cathay, Lisa Wong Lai-shan, said Mr Levitt's comments were not helpful and the company needed to be convinced of union sincerity before it would schedule a meeting. 'I hope the union members will make a clear and sensible decision on what they will do,' she said, adding that a non-confrontational approach was needed to get the airline through difficult times. However, Mr Levitt said the US terror attacks and the global aviation downturn should not prevent pilots from taking action because Cathay would not talk unless the union showed it had the guts to act. Many companies around the world had used the terror attacks to take advantage of their employees, he said. Such action 'bordered on' insanity in the air industry, where pilots were already under extra stress, he said.