Cathay Pacific staff threaten strike action including no smiles on flights

Cathay Pacific cabin staff protest in Hong Kong. Picture: Getty
Cathay Pacific cabin staff protest in Hong Kong. Picture: Getty
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Flight attendants at Hong Kong airline Cathay Pacific Airways are threatening to withhold food, alcohol and even smiles from passengers during the Christmas holidays over a pay dispute.

Cabin staff at the airline, which has a reputation for top-notch service, voted at a union meeting this week in favour of industrial action that could also result in flight delays.

The union is demanding a five per cent pay increase but the airline, which is struggling to cut costs, has offered two per cent and a 13th month bonus.

The Cathay Pacific Airways Flight Attendants Union will soon announce when the action approved in the vote will be carried out, general secretary Tsang Kwok-fung said yesterday.

“We may not provide alcoholic drinks to our passengers, or we may not even provide meals to passengers,” in which case the union would advise travellers to bring their own food and drinks, the general secretary added and said limited service could also include withholding smiles and greetings from passengers.

“We cannot smile because of the situation, because of how the company treats us.”

The union is also considering working to rule, which involves doing no more than the minimum work required in contracts and precisely following safety regulations. Such tactics could include strictly enforcing size limits on hand luggage or waiting for all cleaning staff to leave the plane before boarding. The measures could delay flights by 20 to 30 minutes.