Work-to-rule could cause havoc with summer flight schedules Hundreds of Dragonair pilots have launched a work-to-rule action in a dispute over rosters and pay that they say could cause extensive disruption to passenger flights over summer. Pilots claim some flights have already been cancelled because of the contract compliance action - an allegation Dragonair denies - and predict it will be most keenly felt from next month when schedules are busier and more crew go on leave. The pilots say they have been forced into the action by the company's refusal to address their concerns about rostering, alleged breaches of flight-time limitations and their request for pay rises. Dragonair pilots have not had a pay rise for four years and there is no roster agreement between the airline and its 300-plus pilots, about 85 per cent of whom are represented by the Dragonair Pilots Association. The pilots want pay rises to bring their salaries closer to those of Cathay Pacific pilots, who generally earn about 15 per cent more. Union members voted in December for a work-to-rule action starting in February, just before the Lunar New Year holiday, but postponed it when management agreed to preliminary talks. Those talks collapsed, however, and the union convened a further extraordinary general meeting in March, where 100 pilots unanimously voted to go ahead with the work-to-rule action. Contract compliance has been vigorously imposed and pilots say the airline is already feeling the effect. 'There have been cancellations this month and I would suggest contract compliance has played a part,' one pilot said. 'May is fairly quiet and it is already having an impact. 'From June to August it will certainly have an effect and I would imagine the Shanghai and Beijing routes will be the worst hit because they have the highest frequency of flights.' Under contract compliance, pilots refuse to take on extra work for the company to cover for colleagues on holiday or sick leave, something they say Dragonair has relied on heavily as crews are increasingly stretched by busier schedules. One senior pilot said Dragonair pilots, particularly the 50 British-based freighter pilots, were working under stressful conditions because of their increased workload and a reluctance by management to raise staffing levels. 'Some of the guys are really tired when they fly and this is not safe,' the pilot said. 'An accident is not in anybody's interests.' The union said it hoped more meetings could be scheduled by management to break the deadlock - indicating the work to rule might be suspended again if substantive talks get under way. 'Dragonair management needs to improve its attitude towards harmonious industrial relations with its employees before it can guarantee ongoing success,' the union said. 'Only one meeting with the company has been held since contract compliance [began] and, regrettably, that meeting fell short of resolving the issues.' A union source said the mood among members 'ranged from frustration to anger to a sense of regret that it has come to this'. 'We never asked for this fight. We don't understand why they have taken this aggressive stand against us,' the source said. 'We work for a successful company and we want to continue the success of the company. We have had some guys resign over the way the company has treated them.' A spokeswoman for Dragonair, which carries more than 400,000 passengers a month and flies to more than 20 mainland destinations, said the work to rule had not resulted in any flight cancellations. 'Our services continue to operate as normal.'