Cathay crews up for a fight

Cathay Pacific flight attendants will stage an assembly tomorrow to pressure the flag carrier airline to answer to their demands to improve roster arrangements.

The Cathay Pacific Airways Flight Attendants Union is calling for members to wear a white top and to gather at the open area at the main entrance of the airline's headquarters at Cathay Pacific City from

2 pm to 6 pm tomorrow.

The union was also last night waiting for the police to issue a letter of no objection to the assembly.

The theme of the assembly is to protect labor rights and "call for public attention and support," the union organizers also said.

And there was also a hope that Cathay executives would answer directly and promptly to demands.

"Spread the word. Let it be heard. United we stand," the union declared.

The issue has been bubbling for a while.

It was on December 30 that the union issued an ultimatum to the airline. Address roster and manpower issues, it warned, or there could be a strike to press demands.

The union followed up the same day by saying it could initiate a work-to-rule action.

That would see members following working rules and hours strictly. And the message was that such action could affect flights and efficiency during the Lunar New Year rush, which runs from Sunday to Wednesday.

With Hong Kong lifting its Covid curbs, Cathay Pacific has been striving to resume flight capacities, but it has yet to replenish manpower losses suffered during the three years of the pandemic.

The union has complained that Cathay's demanding roster arrangements have brought about shorter rest times during layovers and back-to-back short-haul flights.

The union's gripes included the claim that some flight attendants were still being put on rosters that did not include any long-haul flights, meaning they did not enjoy layover allowances and only receive their basic pay.

Flights were also said to be operating with fewer attendants.

"They are not machines that can go to sleep by simply pushing a button," said the union's vice-chair, Grace Siu Wing-yan.

In response, Cathay said: "While our capacity remains constrained, pay will be lower than we want it to be for a while. As our capacity increases pay will also increase."

Cathay also said it was in the process of making rosters better for flights attendants and that layover arrangements would be improved.