Cathay Pacific faces threat of New Year strikes

Cathay Pacific faces the threat of strike action by cabin crew in an escalation of a pay row ahead of the busy end-of-year travel period.

Flight attendants could work-to-rule or refuse to do some tasks such as serving food to passengers in the run-up to Christmas.

Workers may go on strike over the New Year or the February Lunar New Year holiday if Cathay fails to respond to requests for more pay talks, according to cabin crew union chairman Dora Lai.

The union would not say when it would begin industrial action. A strike would be a “last resort” and it would not happen before Christmas, Bloomberg reported Lai as saying.

The union represents more than 5,800 of the Hong Kong airline’s 9,000 flight attendants.

“If they run Cathay Pacific as a lowcost airline, then we will have to conduct a lowcost airline service,” Lai said after a meeting of more than 1,600 union members or their representatives. “We have no choice.”

The union, which originally asked for a 5% pay rise, is seeking talks after Cathay announced an increase of about 2%.

The carrier is also trying to cut costs because of waning long-haul travel demand and higher fuel prices.

Cathay last month banned spending on festive gatherings, scrapped a management conference and cut entertainment spending to a “bare minimum.”

The airline said it is prepared to meet the union to discuss “lifestyle and operational matters,” provided the threat of industrial action is lifted.

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