Old 10th Sep 2012, 21:19
  #1 (permalink)  
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: Everywhere
Posts: 3
Reality check for those thinking of joining...

Hi all

Sorry, very long post, but I've been staying quiet this whole time and just browsing the happenings in Hong Kong, but I feel like I have to speak up for anyone considering joining Cathay. I've been holding off on posting anything til I got the company off my back but here you go.

I joined cx last year via the TT program against my gut instincts and against everything I'd been hearing on PPRuNe. Just a bunch of whiners on PPRuNe who would be unhappy no matter where they work, I told myself. Turns out I was wrong and they were right. I should have gone with my gut and stayed far away from Cathay, so hopefully this post will give people something to think about.

I left CX after about 6 months for various reasons. Some are personal, so I won't get into that here, but others apply to everyone, and I think it's important that people know what they're getting into. The company you are joining is not the world class airline they like to lead everyone to believe, but still the same old company that brought us the 49ers saga. BTW read John Warham's book on the 49ers. I wish I did before I went. As for the reasons working at Cathay is not all you think it is, here are some things to consider:

- We all know Hong Kong's real estate is expensive, but it's a lot worse than you may think. Those apartments you see advertised within your budget look all shiny on the realtor websites. The reality is you will spend much more than your 10K "allowance" to live in something that is severely below the standard that you are used to living in the west.

- Enjoy any kind of outdoor activities? Well, you can kiss that goodbye, unless hiking in a concrete path past piles of garbage to some polluted beach is your idea of fun. Sure, you may think HK is a fun and exciting city. I know I did before I actually lived there. Then you realize that all there is to do is shopping and drinking. Music scene? Forget about it. Arts, culture? The only culture in HK is money. Besides, you won't be able to afford to do anything other than drink 7-11 beers on the sidewalk in Lan Kwai Fong

- If you have any kind of flying experience, you're in for a shock at your role in the cockpit. I can't blame the captains I flew with for treating me like I didn't know anything since they've probably been stuck with cadets with zero time sitting in the other seat. But if you're coming to cx with any kind of operational experience, you're gonna be pretty frustrated if the only things you're trusted to do on your own are to carry the document bag or eat sandwiches. Sitting in the right seat making radio calls to russian ATC does not make for a rewarding career.

- If you want to get based anywhere near where you're from, you may as well forget about that too. I know that right now the basing situation is up in the air, but I would not hold my breath on ever getting based outside Hong Kong if you join now.

- This won't necessarily happen to everyone but a few months after I joined we were asked to go to the 5th floor and sign new contracts. We were told that they had been changed a little bit for tax purposes. On closer inspection though, I noticed the biggest change. The entire "forgiveable loan" was no longer prorated if you chose to leave early. Now, only the "course fee" in Adelaide was prorated, so the rest of the 875K does not come down until you have worked there for 6 years. Of course, in Cathay-land, it's sign or you're fired, so we signed it and decided that we would all stick up for each other should anyone ever question which contract we signed originally, and which one we were coerced into signing.

Anyway, those were some of my reasons for leaving. Like I said, there were others as well and I was fully prepared to pay out the remainder of the contract and get out of there. Once you decide to make that move though, is when the company really shows its true colours. When I resigned from Cathay, I was presented 2 days later with a bill for the amount of money I owed the company from my contract. Problem is, the amount they claimed I owed them was about double what I came up with in my own calculations. The calculation looked like it had been done on Excel by a 9 year old who had never even read the contract. When I asked if I could make a photocopy of the numbers they came up with, I was told that they couldn't do that. So I went through the contract again and came up with the amount that I had to repay and sent them those numbers. I had only spent 4 weeks in Adelaide and not the entire 12-14 for the normal TT course. Of course that didn't stop them from trying to claim the whole amount. After some further wrangling, we came up with a number that was much more fair and in the spirit of the (shi**y) contract I was stupid enough to sign.

Now came the HK tax issue. The company would not give me a tax return before my departure date from Hong Kong. Instead they chose to send me threatening emails claiming I had to pay the full amount owing before I left. Considering my salary in Hong Kong, I simply did not have that kind of money lying around. I had to go home to take out some money that I had invested in order to pay them. In the end, I had to leave Hong Kong quietly without the company or the IRD knowing. I managed to deal with the IRD myself from home but the company was no help.

When I got back to Canada, I sent Cathay half the money I owed them, and told them they would receive the rest once I get a copy of my final paystub with the amount that they withheld, so that I can subtract it from the amount I still owe them. I never received this paystub. Instead, I got a letter from a lawyer in Canada. This letter claimed that I still owed them the rest of the money, with no mention of the amount from my last paycheque that I never got paid. Of course, in true cathay fashion, the letter came with the usual threats and intimidation.

In the end, I decided that Cathay has much more in the way of resources for legal battles, so I borrowed money from a bank and paid them the money owing from the contract to get them off my back. Iím living back in Canada, flying for a regional airline, which funnily enough provides me with a much better lifestyle than Cathay did. I regret my decision to go to HK, but donít regret my decision to leave for one second. Living in the polluted cesspool that is Hong Kong is not worth any amount of money in the world, and it definitely isnít worth what theyíre paying right now. In addition, working for a faceless corporation that threatens employees who have the audacity to leave is just not worth the loss of freedom. Unfortunately, the only measure of revenge I can take against the company is to post this on PPRuNe and discourage anyone I know from ever going there.

Personally, I was lucky enough to have a way out, but this may not be an option for everyone who goes. I'm not saying you shouldn't go but, if you do, you have been warned. Good luck to all
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