Cathay Confirms Meeting Invite From H.K. Labor Deptarment

Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd. (293) received an invitation to meet with representatives of the Hong Kong Labor Department and the Flight Attendants Union, it said in a statement yesterday.

Members of the union, which represents more than 5,800 of Cathay’s 9,000 flight attendants, last week authorized its leaders to initiate industrial action after a disagreement over a proposed pay rise for next year. The labor group had asked for a 5 percent pay increase, while Cathay offered about 2 percent. Cathay said in an open letter that employees have seen salaries go up about 12 percent in the past three years, with an extra month of annual bonus.

The proposed meeting is planned this week, Liza Ng, general manager of cabin crew, said in the statement. Flight attendants may work to rule or refuse to do tasks such as serving food in the days leading to Christmas, said Dora Lai, the union’s chairwoman. Workers may go on strike over the New Year or the February Lunar New Year holiday if Cathay fails to respond to requests for further pay talks, she said.

“We appreciate the Labor Department’s experience in resolving issues such as this,” Ng said. “We know many Hong Kong people have travel plans over the peak year-end season and it is certainly our priority to ensure that our customers are not inconvenienced in any way.”

Cathay shares rose 1.6 percent this week to HK$13.86, boosting the stock’s gain this year to 4.1 percent.

The last time Cathay flight attendants staged a strike was during the Lunar New Year holiday in 1993 when about 1,000 cabin crew walked out for 17 days, the longest in the union’s history, according to Tsang Kwok-fung, a spokesman for the Cathay Pacific Airways Flight Attendants Union. Since then, there have only been smaller actions such as working to rule, he said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Eleni Himaras in Hong Kong at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Paul Tighe at

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