The largest union of Hong Kong’s flagship carrier Cathay Pacific has announced that its members will soon take industrial action. The union earlier slammed the company for ignoring concerns over long working hours and a lack of rest time.

A Cathay Pacific flight. File photo: Kelly Ho/HKFP.

The 3000-strong Cathay Pacific Airways Flight Attendants Union (FAU) said on Facebook on Thursday night that its planned “work-to-rule” action – when employees only do as much work as is stipulated by their contracts – was “endorsed by 100% of members present” at its recent general meeting.

The post did not specify when their industrial action would take effect but said it would be implemented “shortly.”

“We hereby urge you to take real actions to support FAU in fighting for what you deserve,” the union wrote. It added that the airline should provide sufficient layovers between flights and revise existing salary contracts.

In early December, the union sent a letter to Cathay Pacific CEO Augustus Tang, saying that the airline had introduced “inhumane flight patterns, perpetual manpower cut, additional workload and allowance cut” in return for the cabin crew’s “solidarity” with the company during its struggle under the Covid-19 pandemic.

Later, a union leader said it had received unanimous backing from its members to take action in protest of what it saw as the company’s disregard of employees’ wellbeing. The union representative added that staging a strike would be “a last resort.”

A candidate at Cathay Pacific’s flight attendant recruitment day on October 7, 2022. File photo: Kelly Ho/HKFP.

In response to an HKFP enquiry, Cathay Pacific said flight services would “continue as scheduled” and there was no need for customers to be concerned.

The airline added that it was “grateful for the hard work and commitment shown by our cabin crew throughout the challenging pandemic years,” and was committed to “doing whatever is feasible to continuously improve roster quality.”

“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,” it said.

The airline said cabin crew members who worked during Christmas, the New Year and the Lunar New Year periods would receive a special allowance, and all eligible employees would receive a pay rise of 3.3 per cent for 2023 and one month of “an ex-gratia payment.”

However, the carrier did not indicate whether it would engage in negotiations with the cabin crew union.

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Peter Lee

Peter Lee is a reporter for HKFP. He was previously a freelance journalist at Initium, covering political and court news. He holds a Global Communication bachelor degree from CUHK.