I can’t say I feel much sympathy for Cathay Pacific’s multimillionaire pilots facing pay cuts or redundancies. But the latest deals the city’s flagship airline is forcing crews and pilots to accept, along with shutting down Cathay Dragon , sounds the death knell of unionism in Hong Kong, with full financial and political backing from the government. That’s unforgivable. Believe it or not, post-1997 Hong Kong actually had a collective bargaining law. It was passed shortly before the handover of sovereignty, but quickly killed in less than three months in the so-called provisional legislature, by an unholy alliance of business and government. Ever since, the Cathay Pacific Airways Flight Attendants Union and the Aircrew Officers Association have been the only unions able to conduct negotiations with bosses using collective bargaining. Now, though, with Cathay’s management offering a “take it or leave it” deal , those rights are finally being gutted. Basically, the city has no more unions, other than 19th century-like worker’s clubs for hobbies, drinking and commiseration. Cathay Dragon’s 35-year run as regional airline comes to an end The airline has culled 8,500 jobs and the Dragon brand, while remaining staff have been given just two weeks across all levels to consider accepting pay cuts of up to 36 per cent. Around 4,000 cabin crew, 600 pilots, and 700 ground staff and office workers have been made redundant in Hong Kong alone. Cathay’s restructuring comes after it received a HK$30 billion bailout from the government along with HK$680 million for both Cathay and its subsidiary cargo, frequent flier and laundry businesses. It is being blamed on the coronavirus pandemic. But if so much public money couldn’t save more jobs, you wonder what the bailout is actually for and who it really benefits. Many pro-government politicians and commentators, especially “blue” YouTube KOLs (key opinion leaders) cheer the redundancies. The reason is that some Cathay union leaders last year openly agitated against the Hong Kong and central governments at the height of the violent unrest. Can Cathay still protect Hong Kong’s status as global aviation hub? The unionists’ behaviour may have been disgraceful, but they don’t represent Cathay staff when it comes to local politics. It is not that Cathay staff have had it too good, until recently, but that practically all other industrial sectors have had fewer rights and protections that have been common in most industrialised economies. If there had been better worker protection and higher wages, Hong Kong’s declining social and living conditions would have been much less severe and would not have become fuel to last year’s unrest.