Cathay threatens pilots with no pay rise
HONG KONG (Reuters) - Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd criticised its pilots on Thursday for resuming a work-to-rule campaign, saying there would be no increase in pay or other benefits if they did not relent.
The warning came 10 days after the airline's pilots began a go-slow campaign in an attempt to win better pay and work conditions. The pilots' campaign involves working strictly according to the terms of their contracts and not helping out on their days off.
In a letter addressed to its crew members, Asia's fourth-largest airline and Hong Kong's biggest carrier accused its pilots of destroying the territory's reputation as an aviation hub and damaging the airline's high yield revenue streams.
The airline also accused the pilots' union of putting on a "spin" in their latest campaign, alleging that it was designed to position Cathay as "an unsafe airline".
The airline said the insincerity of the pilots' union would prevent any meaningful negotiations when the pilots' three-year agreement with the airline expires by the middle of the year.
"If there is no committee we can sensibly work with, it will mean by default that the current conditions of service will roll over," it added.
"There will be no change to the basic conditions of service but it will mean no increase in salary," it said.
Asked if the company would rule out layoffs, Cathay's spokesman, Tony Tyler, told Reuters: "We have no desire to make redundant any staff ... but we certainly cannot afford to have anyone on board that is not fully with the company."
In response, John Findlay of the Hong Kong Aircrew Officers' Association, which represents 85 percent of Cathay's 1,400 passenger service pilots, denied that the union has been involved in any "spin"
The latest move was designed by Cathay to intimidate the pilots and their families, he said.
Cathay pilots started a work to rule campaign on July 3 last year causing delays and cancellations at the start of the busy summer holiday season. The campaign escalated in late August after talks broke down, dealing a blow to Cathay's profit margins at a time when the aviation industry was showing signs of a slowdown.
The pilots suspended the job action on October 19 to resume talks but have accused Cathay of not negotiating in good faith.
Cathay sacked 52 pilots for their 'go slow' campaign, saying it had lost confidence in them, but later reinstated one.
Troubled by Hong Kong's second economic downturn in four years, lower incomes and fear of more layoffs, there has been little public expression of sympathy with the pilots.
Shares of Cathay rose 3.37 percent to HK$10.75 on Thursday. The stock is down about 22 percent in the past year.