Flight attendants bemoan Cathay Pacific scrapping annual talksLocal | 27 Nov 2020 4:14 pm
The Cathay Pacific Airways Flight Attendant Unions (FAU) has denounced a move by the airline to cancel its year-end negotiation with staff, saying it deprives workers of their collective-bargaining rights, RTHK reports.
According to the union, management described the exercise as "old-fashioned" and "outdated" in a video circulated in the company’s intranet on Friday morning.
The FAU pointed out that the year-end negotiation has been carried out for the past 10 years and acts as a platform to discuss cabin crew’s welfare, including flight schedule arrangements and retirement age.
The union, which represents 75 percent of Cathay's cabin crew, is demanding that the airline continue the dialogue.
The FAU's vice chairwoman, Amber Suen, said cancelling the talks demeans the union and weakens its collective-bargaining power.
“The consequences of permanently cancelling the year-end negotiation is that we no longer have a scheduled, regular negotiation opportunity with the company,” she said.
“Basically whenever they feel like they can meet with you. If they don’t want you, you don't have the chance.”
The union has proposed delaying the year-end negotiation and criticised the airline's stance to use questionnaires instead to solicit its views.
The FAU’s chairwoman, Zuki Wong, said the participation rate in the questionnaire feedback session is quite low each year because of fears of retribution.
“It is often that our staff do not hope to reveal their identity… therefore wanting the union to represent their voice,” said Wong. "They are afraid of consequences (after raising their suggestions with their name revealed).”
Wong said the government cannot turn a blind eye to the situation after its HK$39 billion bailout of the struggling carrier earlier this year.
The global aviation sector has taken a battering because of the coronavirus pandemic, with Cathay announcing the axing of thousands of jobs and the end of its Cathay Dragon affiliate as well as requiring staff to sign new contracts resulting in less pay and reduced benefits.
Wong also called on the government to draw up with legislation to protect the collective-bargaining rights of all Hong Kong workers.-Photo: RTHK