Cathay Pacific expresses disappointment at union remarks and decision

2012-12-10 — / — Cathay Pacific is greatly disappointed by the Flight Attendants Union’s (FAU) recent remarks and decision today to take industrial action. Such action will have a negative impact on the general public and our colleagues.

No response from FAU to meet

Cathay Pacific sent a letter to the FAU Chairlady last Friday (7 December) expressing willingness to meet up with the Union to discuss various lifestyle and operational matters provided that they remove the threat of industrial action. Our attempts to contact the Union to set up a meeting did not meet with any response.

Protecting employment of the whole team

As a responsible corporation in Hong Kong, we have long been committed to treating our employees with respect. When times are tough, it is our goal to keep the team together; in good times we are happy to share positive results with our staff. We always have the interests of more than 20,000 staff worldwide – 14,000 of them in Hong Kong – in mind. We want to uphold this spirit.

Adverse Impact on passengers and colleagues

Industrial action by a group of colleagues will always have an adverse impact on other members of the workforce, including the majority of cabin crew who are committed to doing their jobs in a professional way. Industrial action puts unnecessary pressure on our colleagues, who will have to put leave plans on hold, cancel holidays with their families, and work day and night to cope with the huge workload that results from any disruptions. It is unfair that the Hong Kong public and Cathay Pacific staff have had to endure threats of industrial action.

Operation issues should not be politicised

As the current issue is caused by a difference in views between the Company and the Union over the salary increase and operational matters, it is not appropriate to politicise the issue and use public interest as a bargaining chip.

Staff receive annual pay increases over the past decade

The offer of a 2% salary increment for 2013 and a discretionary 13th month payment for 2012 for staff in Hong Kong took into account a number of factors including a loss of more than HK$900 million in the first half of this year and the extremely difficult operating environment we are in. Different industries have their own business cycles and operating environments. Over the past 10 years Cathay Pacific has provided annual salary increases to eligible staff, even at times when other corporations have been freezing salaries and cutting annual bonuses.

Swapping flight duties between overseas-based crew does not affect Hong Kong crew

The trial programme allowing overseas based crew in San Francisco, Singapore, and Bangkok to exchange flights is not about outsourcing of jobs and it will not affect job opportunities the company is offering in Hong Kong. There is absolutely no impact on Hong Kong-based crew in any way in terms of flying hours, pay and promotion. Cathay Pacific has more than 9,000 cabin crew, only 10% of whom are based overseas. We plan to gradually resume the recruitment of cabin crew in 2013 and among the 576 crew we will hire, more than 500 will be employed in Hong Kong.

Constant communication with staff and the Union

We have ongoing dialogue with the crew community and the FAU. This year we have already had more than 15 meetings with the FAU, which illustrates the high value we place on the viewpoints of the Union. We will continue to embrace an open corporate culture.

The company always has contingency plans in place to cope with pressure on its resources arising from different types of disruptions.

We would like to reiterate that we welcome constructive and sensible discussions at any time, provided that the Union removes the threat of industrial action that affects the interests of the general public and other colleagues.

We believe that the majority of our colleagues at Cathay Pacific are considerate and understand the difficult situation the company is in, and are willing to get through these tough times together with the company.