Cathay Pacific ground staff and cabin crew are considering co-ordinated strike action over Christmas, threatening the holiday plans of thousands of travellers. The workers are at loggerheads with the airline's management over recent changes to the medical benefits scheme. Staff who joined the company after June 1997 now have HK$30 taken out of their pay for each visit they make to a general practitioner and HK$50 for each specialist consultation, which the union believes is unfair. A meeting between the two groups of staff - the first ever - is to be held tomorrow at the Airport Regal Hotel. They will decide whether to proceed with industrial action following the breakdown of communication between the union and management. Cathay Pacific Airways Flight Attendants Union chairwoman Becky Kwan Siu-wa said yesterday members had been forced to take the drastic step because management was refusing to negotiate. The introduction of the medical charge was considered a de facto pay cut because it would be taken directly from salaries. Ms Kwan said it was the first time the 4,500-strong union would meet the ground staff to discuss industrial action. Industrial action would hit the company where it hurt, she said. 'We do not set out to inconvenience the public but we see this issue as the company taking advantage of us. At the moment, the company is not talking and it is testing our tolerance.' Ms Kwan said the airline's management had also declared they would not meet the union over any other matter. 'We find it difficult to tolerate the constant undermining of the union,' she said. 'We want management to withdraw this charge and start negotiations with us to prevent any industrial action.' A spokesman for Cathay Pacific could not be reached yesterday.