Cathay cabin crew threaten summer strike over pay, allowances

April 29, 2015 13:33
Cathay Pacific's cabin crew union (inset) has accused the management of cutting staff allowances and treating new recruits unfairly. Photo: Bloomberg, am730

The Cathay Pacific Airways Flight Attendants Union has warned that it may launch a massive strike if the carrier's management does not resolve grievances over meal allowances and new employment contracts.

Union chairwoman Dora Lai said industrial action will take place in the summer if the management fails to address the staff concerns by then.

As the union does not want to cause inconvenience to the travelling public, it is giving enough time to the management to sort out the issues, she said, according to Apple Daily.

The union has more than 6,300 members, accounting for over 70 percent of the carrier's total cabin crew staff.

Possible actions by the union also include a marathon sit-in at the airport, Lai said.

Cathay Pacific, which earned more than HK$3 billion (US$387 million) last year, promised a salary increase averaging 4.5 percent for 90 percent of its Hong Kong staff in December.

However, the union accused the company of cutting their allowances by 18 percent, making the total income of a flight attendant actually less than what a person earned before the raise.

For example, daily lunch allowance for cabin crew on the Hong Kong-Melbourne route has been cut to A$35 (US$28) from A$60.

Julian Yau, vice-chairman of the union, said Cathay tried to play tricks by cutting more benefits after promising a raise.

He also said the company has changed one of the internal policies since mid-April and stopped providing legal support for employees who encounter violent or law-breaking passengers.

Meanwhile, the union also found that cabin crew who are switching to long-term contracts, after their initial three-year service, have different rates if they renewed them after April 2 this year.

Those who did it before April 2 were able to enjoy an increase in pay per flying hour to HK$176.80 from HK$144.70, while those renewing the contracts later were getting only HK$159.30 per hour.

Unequal pay for equal work is a matter of serious concern, the union said.

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