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Your Careers In The Balance

Fragrant Harbour A forum for the large number of pilots (expats and locals) based with the various airlines in Hong Kong. Air Traffic Controllers are also warmly welcomed into the forum.

Your Careers In The Balance

Old 5th Apr 2009, 20:29
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Your Careers In The Balance


I have refrained from commenting for quite some time now. Unfortunately, the current events compel me to offer my thoughts and suggestions to my friends and colleagues.

We are confronted with possibly the gravest threat to the value and security of our careers since the communist riots in HK during the 1960's. The difference is that this time our adversary is totally lacking in morals, unlike the communists who at least had some idealism about them.

What you see developing are the fruits of a concerted program that was designed and implemented in the early 90's. The Swire 'machine' determined that going forward, their employees would be reduced to well below industry standards, and that it would be done in both a subtle and sometimes ruthless manner. The result has been a steady and deadly erosion of our career potential, and the 'management' of our expectations to the point that we are seemingly willing to put up with just about anything they impose on us. You must all ask yourself the question: What indignity is finally a step too far, and what will I do about it, both collectively and individually? The time is now at hand where everyone of us will make a decision that will determine the true nature and value of our careers for many decades to come.

Firstly, be of no doubt that CX has is determined to force through some drastic changes at the moment of greatest advantage to them. The economic situation has developed to provide the 'appearance' of grave peril to the airline, and this is an opportunity that our managers cannot resist. I say 'appearance' of peril, because in fact the situation is much better than they choose to portray.

The airline is in fact in very robust condition. We have many many billions of cash, liquid assets and credit lines available. We could fly every flight, every day empty for over a year before we had anything close to a cash crunch. We also have billions in mortgagable assets that could be converted into enough cash to see us well into the next decade. The airline is patently NOT anywhere near to 'going out of business'. Our managers work on a simply theory: Any concessions now will be returned slowly over the next 10 year period. This ensures that they constantly reduce their realised cost basis on an inflation adjusted basis for years to come. To put it in context, the 2500 pilots now cost them in real terms what 1400 pilots cost them back in the mid 90's. Read what I just said again carefully. Each one of us costs them about half what we did 15 years ago.

In addition, in the many profitable years we have all worked very had to produce, CX management have given most of the gain to themselves. The employees came a very distant 2nd or 3rd. If they had renumerated us properly (using a fair and equitable profit sharing scheme) during those years, there would be a reasonable moral acceptance of helping during the down year(s). However, as they chose to cheat us for so long, any talk of concessions now is beyond galling, and verges on the obscene.

I will have more (much more) to say in coming days. In the meantime, be of no doubt that you should steel yourselves for the greatest fight of your careers. It's outcome will determine whether your career is of value or not. It will determine your very character. I suggest you all start forming small, dependant groups of 4 or 5 friends who will educate each other and hold each other responsible for the well being of the others in the group. Now is the time to find resolve, character, courage and determination.

The reality is that CX cannot function without the pilots. They cannot victimise a single individual if they know that the rest remain united against both the day to day events, and the individual events designed to intimidate. The AOA needs to lay down a marker to the company, inform the membership as to the stance it is taking, and then have the members fully support the plan going forward.

CX will be well prepared in the coming weeks...and we must be also. Now is the time to stand up for yourselves and your profession.


Last edited by Old China Driver; 5th Apr 2009 at 20:50.
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Old 5th Apr 2009, 20:34
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I also don't see our competitors (BA,DL,UA,QA, etc) suggesting pay or benefit cuts for their staff. CX can get stuffed. If you had paid me extra when the good times were here you would have a bit of an arguement, however, you cheated me and everyone else (I remember 2 years ago when we made $300m usd profit, but none of it was paid to the staff...althought the Swire mangers recieved hefty bonuses...). Unbelievable what passes for man management in this sorry excuse for an airline (oh, I see we got 'airline of the year' again...what a joke!).
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Old 6th Apr 2009, 05:23
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Old 6th Apr 2009, 14:52
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Guys, would you really expect anything more from a bunch of ex drug dealers in suits ? Perrlease
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Old 6th Apr 2009, 15:24
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One hard fact is this: Hong Kong law allows that you can be sacked for no reason as long as they pay you your pay and allowances for your notice period.

Fine words OCD but that needs to be born in mind. It has happend before and will happen again.
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Old 6th Apr 2009, 17:39
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Regardless of the law, all it would take is the 'elusive' determination to remain united. If the entire pilot work force had stopped flying the day the 49's were fired, the airline would have capitulated less than 24 hours later. It is simply our disunity that causes our weakness. The airline cannot function without it's intricate and fragile pool of 2500+ pilots operating in a sustained and reliable manner. If that is threatened, the costs to the airline increase exponentially. Never mind the PR disaster that a shutdown would incur. As soon as we find a way to resolve this decade(s) long weakness in our character and resolve, the problem of being constantly beaten with a big stick will end.
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Old 7th Apr 2009, 01:57
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the 'elusive' determination

Spot on ATY.

3 months pay as notice to all pilots, the stoppage of the airline within a few days after the sackings, the crippling of HK's economy, Beijing would not be happy either......

Determination will stop the bully. Instead of spouting forth in PPRuNe and then running for cover when things get nasty, if we all showed some ba!!s
no one would stay sacked and the big stick will be broken for ever.
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Old 7th Apr 2009, 02:19
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If you think for ONE SECOND that PEK will allow a predominantly expat UNION to cripple the economy of it's showpiece, you're dreaming gents.

In the blink of an eye, CX will disappear, China Eastern/Southern/Air China aircraft will be here in their hundreds, and the worlds' media, led on by CNNs' Chinoy (Hi Mike - missed you at the Sevens) and others will breathlessly report from CLK while the greedy pilots are shipped out.

Get real.

Last edited by Cpt. Underpants; 7th Apr 2009 at 02:46.
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Old 7th Apr 2009, 04:31
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Don't forget ATY a strong union in Australia ( My AFAP ) did just what you suggest, we all resigned on mass. You know ( or should know ) how that little exercise in industrial action turned out.
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Old 7th Apr 2009, 04:47
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Correct ACMS.

The reality is that CX cannot function without the pilots.
People who think they are indispensable are in for a rude awakening.
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Old 7th Apr 2009, 05:14
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I may not be irreplaceable, but the fact is that +2500 are not. Any Cx may be replaceable, but I'm sure Cx doesn't want that.
Also, it is my opinion, that at the end of all this, there could be less pilots for more jobs than anytime in any of our careers. Stick together now and look forward. Why would you roll over just because you lost the last fight. Get your buds together and fight back for **** sakes.
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Old 7th Apr 2009, 06:26
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'89 just proves ATYs point, if it wasn't for a few selfish s that started the cancer, AN and to a lesser extent AA were weeks, possibly days from going broke, FACT.
So I suppose china airlines, southern and eastern are going to drop everything and come down here ( they might have a " little " trouble with the bases ) and do all of CXs and KAs flying ? And even if they did initially, they are goiing to do that ad infenitum ? They can barely crew their own a/c.
If there is going to be a fight, it would be nice if we didn't start running in the opposite direction before the 1st sword is drawn.
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Old 8th Apr 2009, 02:55
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Pilots ARE indispensable

Spot on Rook. Pilots ARE indisensable, the problem is that most of us are too worried about what has happened in the past that we don't realise it any more.

Can the DFO, the CEO or COO fly your aircraft? What does the DFO do by the way, apart from gossip and spread rumours?

ACMS, I don't think ATY suggested we all resign. Forget 89, it happened, sadly, but learn from it don't keep on bleating about it.

I can see a big brown stain in Capt Underpants. PEK will not let CX management ruin the economy of its showpiece. China can't get enough pilots to fly its own carriers' aircraft, let alone CX's. Look at all the recruitment firms that are based in China recruiting (or trying to) expat pilots.
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Old 8th Apr 2009, 03:22
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...sometimes I really do despair.... Why don't you doubting Thomase's think through the relevant scenarios before giving a kneejerk reaction? This airline has two thousand five hundred pilots. It has hundreds of flight daily, all relying on a sophisticated ballet of interlocking departures and arrivals. It has regulatory restraints on who/how/when the aircraft can be operated. It has a reputation, largely based on the safety and competence of it's pilots over many decades. Do you think the HK govt could or would allow much of a disruption to CX's operation right now? HK needs good news...not bad. They would put extreme pressure on CX management to resolve any serious dispute. What if they did another 49er move? Hmmm, just what our management want...more years in court rooms, bad press and eventual recognition that the whole episode actually was as damaging to the company as it was to the 49er's. There is no fear of being fired if you know that your colleagues will immediately give you full support and suspension of operations. All that seperates us from slavery and democratic control of our careers is a sense of honour, character and resolve. If you don't possess such things, then please continue to post defeatist, alarmist and self debasing posts as a few seen above. Time to grow up...
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Old 8th Apr 2009, 08:39
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Not to mention what got the economy into this mess. The reality is that for about 30-40 years, inflation has mostly gone up, forcing costs to go up while salaries have only marginally gone up. That has led to this credit crunch - as people could afford less, credit is the only thing that kept it going. The world was building a house of cards and the last cards (hedge-funds, low-rate mortgages, margin trading, credit card debt) where the final "cards" that made the whole house collapse.

What led to all this? Corporate greed exacerbated by lack of regulation to control corporations that where allowed to write the law books and police themselves. This obviously didn't work and people are just only now getting outraged because the credit dry-up means that they can no longer afford their lifestyles and are much more aware of how under-payed they've been for years.

Just look at how much a family home used to cost 30 years ago as compared to the average college-educated employee pay package. It was 2, maybe 3 times their yearly salary - now it is more like 15 to 20 times as much! If you want property values to go up and airline ticket prices to go up you need to put enough money back into the system so that it can be spent in those tickets and expensive houses. Otherwise you are only increasing the credit / debt. That is not the way that debt works - eventually you have to pay that debt, which is where we are now. Except that so much debt was allowed to accumulate that there isn't enough money to pay it off.

In order for the world economy to return to normal and prosper / grow is for that balance to return. These downturn / upturn cycles in the economy are completely unnecessary and caused by the extremes of greed which destabilize the equation causing so many problems for everyone. We can't just trust that Capitalism will keep things going right - obviously this failure was rooted primarily in Capitalist nations like the US and the European Union . There needs to be laws in place to control human greed and more importantly, they need to be enforced.

If there is one thing you can count on is Human greed - we can't allow it to go unchecked any further. Giving Cathay concessions is irresponsible and we would only be making the situation worse. Do you think that property prices are gonna go down if things improve? Sure, the housing allowance will keep pace, but it is useless if you can't afford the down-payment. And food / supplies are not getting any cheaper either. We need to stand our ground - they've already got concessions when they got the B-scale, the C-scale COS08, the medical co-payment, and the 20% productivity increases they've already gotten since this major expansion started. We need to stop subsidizing their prosperity NOW! We are not seeing our fair share. If they want cost cuts they need to start with the top.

Sorry for the long rant.
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Old 8th Apr 2009, 08:46
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...it was a good, long rant sqwak...!!
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Old 8th Apr 2009, 11:06
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Every single year we have gone without a payrise we assentially made a concession.

Every time you pay more for a staff ticket - you make a concession.

Every time you miss a family event because nobody in management can be bothered to get us a grown up rostering system - you make a concession.

Every time an FO or Captain gets hired above you and you don't get your bypass - you make a concession.

Need I go on?

Enough has been given.
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Old 8th Apr 2009, 22:03
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Listening to the comments on this forum is like drifting back to a WWII movie. Most of the contributors wishing it were 1945 - back in the 'good old days'. The Hong Kong bubble mentality is not your friend or your reality. The aviation business has been in a race to the bottom since Frank Lorenzo broke the union at Continental Airlines in 1981. Just look at the carnage since. Many good people who did the right thing found themselves out in the street with no job and less prospects. Hubris makes you think it cannot happen to you. You are better then the also-rans like Continental, Eastern, Ansett, and all the others! Your cause is just! The law is on your side. You will prevail!!! Unfortunately, happy endings are for Hollywood. The reality is a glut of unemployed pilotís world-wide, underpaid pilots at major carriers, and thousands of commuter pilots who work for peanuts. A United 777 or 744 Captain, I believe, is in the $185,000/yr range with NO retirement. If you think that you are indispensable, you are in for a very rude awakening. Management always wins because they are proactive; they have the money and the spin, as well as the lawyers and judges. The union is always playing catch up - reacting to and not driving the discussion. And since you have no hope of winning, I suggest BOHICA and enjoy it. Best of luck.
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Old 9th Apr 2009, 00:08
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Obama, ...what a load of utter distorted crap. I'll do you a favour and just chew to pieces a couple of your points...ok?

1) Continental Airlines. Now considered the best major carrier in the US, with the most enlightened management in the airline industry, courtesy of Gordon Bethune. Their pilots have the highest salaries, and also fully funded A and B pension plans. They are treated well, with respect, and decisions are made in an open and negotiated manner.

2) United Airlines pilot salaries.......hmmm, you mean the salaries of pilots who work for an airline that has gone BANKRUPT TWICE...? Yes, I can see the relevance to us at CX, an airline that has been profitable for all but ONE year of it's existence.

Great points Obama....you're obviously as naive as your namesake.

Last edited by Apple Tree Yard; 9th Apr 2009 at 00:33.
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Old 9th Apr 2009, 02:17
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I'm with O'57 0n this one. If you were in this game in '81, you will realise the significance of Lorenzo and the [email protected] who enabled him to start this race to the bottom.
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