Most of British Airways’ axed cabin crew in Hong Kong accept improved redundancy packages, union says
Majority of permanent staff signed and returned separation agreement by deadline, BA Hong Kong International Cabin Crew Association says
Most of British Airways’ Hong Kong cabin crew have accepted an improved redundancy package as a bitter dispute over the sudden sacking of all flight attendants based in the city nears resolution.
A majority of permanent staff signed and returned a separation agreement – detailing redundancy terms and severance payments – on Thursday, the deadline to do so, according to the BA Hong Kong International Cabin Crew Association.
If employees did not agree to the terms by the airline’s deadline, they would only receive a basic compensation package as stipulated by Hong Kong law.
The cabin crew are now out of a job after the London-based carrier said on September 26 it would no longer employ flight attendants in Hong Kong because it was unaffordable to do so.
The carrier has been flying to Hong Kong for 82 years and operates two daily flights from Hong Kong to London Heathrow. The lay-offs affected 57 full-time staff and 24 on part-time or temporary contracts.
The number of staff who accepted redundancy packages was still being finalised.
The airline earlier said employees were set to receive a “generous” redundancy package, in some cases worth up to HK$700,000 (US$89,745). Also, the airline would not dip into the workers’ individual pension accounts to cover severance payments, a practice known as Mandatory Provident Fund (MPF) offsetting.
The axed workers would be entitled to staff travel perks for two years.
Association general secretary Carol Ng Man-yee said: “A majority of the permanent cabin crew have signed the compensation [agreement] which includes a lump sum.
“Compared with day one, when the airline said it could offset the statutory entitlements and severance through the MPF, it didn’t do that. So we feel we have secured a lot of things after the battles [with the airline].”
Late last month when the airline announced it was to close its Hong Kong cabin crew base, it gave staff just three days to sign termination agreements. Failure to do so would mean flight attendants receiving the minimum compensation package under the law.
The airline’s handling of events was roundly criticised and sparked a protest at the BA check-in desks at Hong Kong International Airport and a sit-in at its downtown administrative offices.
In an emailed statement, a BA spokeswoman said: “We’re very grateful to our crew in Hong Kong for all of their hard work and dedication over the years. We are confident we can continue to offer customers on this route the world-class service they deserve. ”
British Airways recorded an operating profit of £1.77 billion (US$2.33 billion) in 2017, up 18.9 per cent on the previous year. It is part of the International Airlines Group, a Spanish-British firm whose airlines include Iberia, Barcelona-based budget carrier Vueling and Ireland’s Aer Lingus.
BA operates a fleet of 297 aircraft and fly to more than 200 destinations worldwide.