A deliberate labor unions response to the Cathay Pacific Group’s latest restructuring plans was in the making with calls for mobilization resonated throughout Hong Kong on Monday.
The chain of events that follows the abrupt shutdown of the Group’s Cathay Dragon regional subsidiary airline on October 21st as part of a restructuring plan is threatening to make more long term employees lose their jobs.
While the demise of Cathay Dragon immediately eliminated some 5,700 jobs, among which 4,000 cabin crews, 600 pilots and 700 ground staffs, the prospects remained bleak for another 8,000 pilots and flights attendants remaining with Cathay Pacific main line (24% of the Group’s workforce).
The compounding effects of depressed traffic levels during several months of Covid19 pandemic has finally led Cathay Pacific CEO Augustus Tang to notice that the currently unsustainable HK$1.5-2 billion per month cash burn mark would somehow have to be brought down lower to about HK$500 million per month, if the airline was to survive, according to the South China Morning Post online.
Infuriating the unions is a forceful proposal to pilots and flights attendants to concede respectively a 40 to 60 percent, and a 20 to 40 percent pay cut or else, possibly face job termination. If enacted, the new contracts would make some retirement pensions shrink by close to 80%.
The measure which has been assigned a deadline set for November 4th 2020 is now mobilizing hundreds of members of both the 8,000-strong Cathay Pacific Flight Attendant’s union and the Hong Kong Aircrew Officers Association (which represents 2,200 pilots). Following a Monday meeting at Hong Kong’s Tung Chung Hotel, both groups are now determined to join forces and formulate a credible collective response that can help them counteract next week’s rapidly approaching deadline.
In an emotionally charged context, the unions are now initiating proceedings that would allow the Labour Commissioner to step in and freeze the ticking clock in an effort to force both parties towards the negotiating table.