Flight attendants union issues 'work-to-rule' ultimatum to Cathay Pacific

The flight attendants union of Cathay Pacific issued an ultimatum to the airline Friday on rostering and manpower issues as it warned workers may start a work-to-rule movement if the airline refuses to fulfill their demands by the Chinese New Year holidays. 

Representatives of the union told a press conference Friday afternoon that everything is now ready and flights may be delayed as workers starts the work-to-rule movement. They also said they will consider all actions including going on strike. 

It all depends on Cathay's reply, they noted, and said the movement does not violate any of the regulations. 

Should they really start the work-to-rule movement, there will be no prior notification from press conferences, they added. 

The union said the base salary and hourly rate of flight attendants decreased by 14 to 36 percent in their new contracts, following the mass layoff in October 2020. 

New clauses also change the calculation method of attendants' working hours and extra flying hours won't be included after switching shifts with co-workers under the new contracts. 

The union said they are not asking for too much by requesting the carrier to increase the number of staffers for returning flights and to introduce minimal rest time during overseas layovers. The union also called on Cathay to resume regular meetings with flight attendants and to review the clauses of the new contracts. 

Flight attendants, who constantly travel to and from areas in different time zones, are not a machine that can go sleep by simply pushing a button, said the union's vice-chair Grace Siu Wing-yan. 

Meanwhile, Cathay said in reply that basic salary is just part of the remuneration for cabin crew. “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,” a statement read. 

Cathay also said many of the rostering issues have been resolved for the January roster, and the improvements will continue in the February roster and beyond. 

“We believe layover patterns will improve gradually when frequencies increase and the temporary measures with additional crew members onboard certain flights will be updated accordingly.”