Cathay Pacific cabin crews vote to take possible strike action

A Cathay Pacific A350 climbs after takeoff.
Photo Credit: Charlie Carter/AviationSource

LONDON – In a meeting held today by the union representing Cathay Pacific cabin crew staff, members have voted to take further industrial action, if management of the Hong Kong carrier do not move to address what they describe as “exhausting work rosters.

The emergency general meeting held by the Cathay Pacific Flight Attendants Union for the 3,000-member strong cabin crew personnel received a unanimous endorsement from the 90 members present and over 1,000 more who voted by proxy.

The range of future actions may potentially include strike action.

The unrest has occurred in recent times following the lifting of travel restrictions by Hong Kong. The union cites poor working conditions which include long rostered shift and inadequate rest time between shifts to permit cabin crew to recuperate.

According to the South China Morning Post, the union’s vice-chairwoman Grace Siu Wing-yan indicated that strike action would be a last resort, but added the warning:

“If they still don’t talk to us directly, we will not exclude the possibility of taking further actions during the Christmas and Lunar New Year holidays. It is something we don’t want to see as well.”

The union recognised that the airline was going through a recovery process in the post-pandemic period, but it appealed to the carrier to “improve the rostering system, increase rest time and boost staff numbers to ensure proper service.”

Cathay Pacific in turn assured its patrons that there was no need for concern and that scheduled services would continue as normal.

The Hong Kong carrier went on to add that it had experienced what it characterised as “temporary rostering issues” but suggested that the problem would be dealt with soon.

Past unrest in 2019

In 2019, Cathay Pacific took a ‘zero tolerance’ stance towards worker strike action, warning staff they would risk being sacked if they join a planned Hong Kong strike.

 as the airline intensifies its crackdown on employee support for the rolling pro-democracy protests.

The Hong Kong flag carrier was accused at the time of bowing to political pressure from China, whose aviation regulator had banned airline staff who had supported the demonstrations from working on flights through its airspace.

At the time, Cathay director, Tom Owen, said that workers participating in Cathay Pacific strike action could effectively be in breach of contract.

In a 2019 memo to staff, he said: “We expect all of our employees to report for work as normal and over this period and will be monitoring attendance levels closely.”

“Any breach of policy or regulatory requirements will be investigated and may lead to termination of contract.”

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