Cathay Pacific pilots moved a step closer to industrial action after union members voted down the airline's pay rise offer of 10 per cent over three years. Sources said about 90 per cent of the Hong Kong Aircrew Officers Association's 1,900 members had voted in the online poll. The result, announced yesterday, was razor-close, with 51 per cent voting against the airline's offer and 49 per cent in favour. "It just shows how divided the pilots are," the association's general secretary Chris Beebe said. "I think it's better to say that contract compliance is under consideration." Contract compliance, also known as a work-to-rule, is an action in which pilots will only do the bare minimum of what their contract requires. Pilots expect any impact of such action to be significant, especially in unexpected situations such as a typhoon, because there would not be enough standby pilots. Beebe said the union hoped for more talks with management before deciding whether to go ahead with a work-to-rule. Under the airline's pay rise proposal, announced last month, Hong Kong-based cockpit crew members would get increases of 4 per cent this year, 3 per cent next year, and 3 per cent in 2016. Pilots based in Europe would get a worse deal, with wage increases of 3 per cent, 2 per cent and 3 per cent. Those based in New Zealand would see their pay go up only 1 per cent each year. Cathay has around 2,900 pilots. A Cathay spokesman said the airline was disappointed with the result of the vote, despite the recommendation by the association's general committee. "The HKAOA stated to their membership that if the pay deal was unsuccessful, a potential vote on contract compliance would commence," he said. "We are waiting for further clarification from the HKAOA on that situation. However, it is important to note that any motion on contract compliance has to be successfully voted in by the majority of the HKAOA members." He added that the nature of Cathay's business required the airline to prepare resources to cover any operational irregularities, and said the airline would do its best to ensure its planes flew as scheduled. A Cathay pilot who asked not to be named said he was surprised that the offer was rejected. "It is just really close. I thought it would be voted through," the pilot said. Although he voted for the airline's offer, he said he and the rest of the pilots would press ahead with contract compliance if it became necessary. "The impact will be huge. There could be flight cancellations," the pilot said. Pilots complain that they are called in to work on their guaranteed days off, some as frequently as two or three times a month.