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Hong Kong aviation

Sacked British Airways staff protest at Hong Kong International Airport, accuse airline of breaking labour laws

Demonstrators say deal offered by carrier is unfair and miscalculates compensation payments

PUBLISHED : Friday, 28 September, 2018, 11:57pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 29 September, 2018, 4:35pm

Hong Kong cabin crew sacked this week by British Airways staged a protest at the city’s airport on Friday claiming the airline had miscalculated compensation payments and flouted labour laws.

Some 30 demonstrators from the BA Hong Kong International Cabin Crew Association and other union groups marched through the departure hall in the evening to the carrier’s check-in counters.

“BA, BA, shame, shame, shame,” the protesters chanted throughout their hour-long demonstration, after the airline’s management declined to meet them on Friday for discussions on the mass lay-off.

The airline made the surprise announcement on Wednesday that it was axing all 85 of its Hong Kong-based crew ahead of the closure of its base in the city next month.

The flight attendants were given until Sunday to sign an agreement stating they would accept an ex gratia payment. The amount has not been revealed.

The crew were told they would only receive compensation in line with local labour laws if they did not sign. But the employees had hoped to extend the deadline by three weeks to talk management out of closing the Hong Kong base while also bargaining for a better deal.

The association’s general secretary Carol Ng Man-yee said the airline’s agreement breached the Employment Ordinance.

British Airways axes entire Hong Kong crew ahead of closure of base in city next month

She claimed the carrier had miscalculated the compensation owed to the crew for being laid off without notice.

The amount had been calculated based on basic salaries instead of average monthly wages, which included commission, allowances and tips, Ng said.

She also accused the airline of treating Hong Kong staff unfairly by not serving any notice. Singapore employees who had been let go were given nine months, she said.

Lawyers for the crew were working on a letter to be sent to BA management before Sunday to force an extension of the deadline by at least three weeks, Ng added.

The management had declined to meet them on Friday, saying it “could not be arranged within this week”, according to Ng.

British Airways crew in Hong Kong hoping to reverse decision to axe city base in wake of shock sackings

Civic Party lawmaker Jeremy Tam Man-ho, a former commercial pilot, said at the protest: “The longest-serving employee has worked with the company for 32 years, yet in return they are only given three-and-a-half days’ notice ... Why are they being treated like they’re disposable?”

None of the union’s 55 members had so far signed the agreement.

Britain’s flag carrier, which has been flying to Hong Kong for 82 years, said it would close the cabin crew base at the end of next month. The airline operates two daily flights from Hong Kong to London Heathrow.