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Letter from a 49'r

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Letter from a 49'r

Old 15th Aug 2001, 08:35
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Exclamation Letter from a 49'r

Fellow professional pilots:

The International Federation of Allied Pilots Association (IFALPA) has placed a recruitment
ban on Cathay Pacific Airways. If you would be so kind as to spare me a few minutes
of your time, I would like to tell you a little about why that ban was put in place.

Between July 06 and July 12 of this year, Cathay Pacific "randomly" sacked 52 of
its aircrew. Hong Kong law states that no reason is required to sack an individual
if he is given sufficient notice or pay in lieu. I was one of those 52 and like
the others received absolutely no notice. The "random" dismissals included 5 out
of 20 Union committee members and 4 out of 7 negotiators. There was no link with
flying capability, as all had fine training records. Three of the sacked pilot's
spouses were pregnant. Most of the 52 have families and dependents to support.
One pilot was receiving cancer treatment and another treatment for a serious heart
condition at the time of his termination.

The dismissals were meant to send a strong signal to the union to back off of its
negotiation requests and industrial action. Ironically, it has had the opposite
effect. On July 09, 49 of the 52 pilots were fired, earning those in the entire
group the title of "49ers". The press release on July 09 was arrogantly entitled
"The way to end the pilot's dispute". Their objectives are not financial (reported
profits for the year 2000 was $640 million USD), but rather to crush the pilot's
union as they have done with every other union on company property. In the first
two weeks of the dispute, the company had lost more money on charters and forward
bookings than the entire value of the union's requests.

Some of the 49ers were called in the middle of the night and read a termination notice.
Others were away and their surprised spouses received the termination letter by
fax. One tried to enter the building only to find his employee card did not work.
I found out with a DHL package in my mailbox and have not heard from the company
since. However, they have advised the Hong Kong Revenue Department that we were
all leaving town on short notice (untrue of course) and we were all therefore presented
with a bill for 1 1/2 years worth of income tax due in less than a week. I have
yet to receive a dime from the company.

The dispute occurred due to repeated contract violations and pointless talks to resolve
discrimination and unstable rostering. There are currently 32 different contracts
for Cathay Pacific's 1500 pilots. B scale is the tip of the iceberg. If a pilot
of Chinese heritage applies overseas, he may be hired on a local package (worth approximately
half of an overseas expatriate package), because he has inherited the right to work
in Hong Kong from his parents. This is irrelevant of his experience level and whether
or not he speaks a word of Cantonese or has ever set foot in Hong Kong.

Rosters are almost comically unstable. It is not uncommon to be rostered for a short
haul flight or a simulator, only to be hauled out after sign-on to perform a 5 day
pattern of ultra long haul. The vast majority of flights do not go with the crew
they were rostered for. It is impossible to predict where you will be on any given
day of the month. One sacked pilot had only worked 2 rostered flights in the 4 months
preceding his termination.

I, as with all the 49ers, am now working full time for the union. We do not consider
ourselves "fallen", but instead, we consider ourselves "hostages" in an industrial
confrontation. Accordingly, all Cathay Pacific pilots are now wearing yellow ribbons
on their uniform to remind all of our predicament. Spouses, peers and friends have
also attached a yellow ribbon to their chest to remind the public.

Although I devoted most of my free time to the union prior to this dispute (I was
not credited for any union time by the company), all of the 49ers are now employees
of the union, devoted to a fair contract and rehire. It is this unions policy not
to sign any agreement which does not include full reinstatement of the 49ers.

IFALPA has instituted this ban so that others do not come to Cathay Pacific to fill
my position and the positions of the 51 others. It is important for your peers to
realize that a pilot may attend an interview, but would be permanently blackballed
by IFALPA for signing a contract or accepting any flying position with Cathay Pacific
Airways until this dispute is resolved and the ban lifted. Please forward on this
message to your fellow aviators.

Thank you for your time.
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Old 15th Aug 2001, 08:47
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Just one question Herb, what are the other 1451 ers ( 1500-49) doing. I thought that if anything they should be the one's backing you and the other 48, because with labour laws like that they could be next!!
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Old 15th Aug 2001, 10:55
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Unfortunately, what you've described Herb is the reality of the lifestyle of the long haul expat pilot in the 21st century. The CX guys (at least the ones in the left hand seat; and expecially those on the 'A' scale) are extremely well paid - some would justifiably say overpaid - and I am given to understand that the amount of work is not excessive (so much so that many run businesses on the side).

IFALPA at the end of the day has no legal or other powers over any airline; and if individuals wish to exercise their human rights to work wherever they choose then so be it.

I'm sure that - as with all stories - there are two sides to this one. You claim that you along with 51 others were 'randomly' selected and 'summarily' dismissed. What is management's version of events? Having invested a huge amount of money in the training of you and your colleagues, I very much doubt that they simply woke up one morning and said "right, let's fire 52 guys simply because we can!"

If you think that life at CX is bad, perhaps you should try a stint at SQ!
Old 15th Aug 2001, 11:49
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Condolences Herb, nobody likes to see their hard-earned position slide down the toilet as many of us have had happen to us...there must be some internal rational as to how the "49ers" were chosen, fair or not I think we all suspect it was a just a plain ole screwin'....but if you're looking to dissuade applicants from aplying at cx...it probably won't happen on the basis of being labled a scab by IFALPA.....I personally wouldn't apply just because of what happened to you..that in itself is enough to scare me off...and i'm sure, many others....many-many posts have not been answered as to the status of current cx pilots accepting command training...these folks should also refuse training...if they want applicants to respect their request to not seek employ at cx...hope your problem gets resolved asap, and all of you are back to work.....but some of the problems rostering etc, are experienced by many, if not most expat type operations...unfortunately cx appears to have lowered itself to the prevailing standard, as opposed to setting the standard, as it has in past years....best wishes and good luck.....
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Old 15th Aug 2001, 12:05
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It is always very sad to hear of people being thrown out of work, we can all equate to what it may feel like and the damage it can cause to families and relationships, but if you were as you say connected with the union side you must have known that the law allowed your employer to act like Genghis Khan, if indeed you have been sinned against in this manner, why then have your 1449 pilot compatriate's not done something like a mass walkout or day of in-action to help with your cause, could it be that your ability in negotiations were not as skilled with your company as you all thought, and that your lack of ability has led to the ultimate sanction left open to the company, after all, highly trained pilots and crew are not available at the drop of a hat, perhaps you were asking for the impossible!
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Old 15th Aug 2001, 12:14
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Terrible story. Good luck to you all Herb.

Nice to see the guvnor as sympathetic as always Just what people want to hear when they've been sacked. Good of you to leap in so quickly with those considerate words as well Guv....

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Old 15th Aug 2001, 14:29
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Just everybody be warned the Guvnor has stuck his ugly opinions in here to get people riled up. This person is some sort of failed airline manager who has pronounced anti-pilot opinions and voices them (look at the postings total) here at every opportunity. Totally ignore all Guvnor postings! Quite why these non-pilots want to spend so much time in a Pilots forum and express so many opinions is beyond me. It obviously shows a very sad life.

To the CX pilots- we watch and hope! Good luck to you!
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Old 15th Aug 2001, 15:02
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Guv's just practicin' to get ready to mistreat his pilots....if his planes ever leave mojave...under their own power that is
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Old 15th Aug 2001, 15:24
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100% AOA Herb.
They don't call it big wednesday for nuthin
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Old 16th Aug 2001, 11:46
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I say, Herb old chap. Any chance of telling us who the International Federation of ALLIED Pilots Association is. Never heard of the Buggers before. Did you say that you work for the Union?
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Old 16th Aug 2001, 20:14
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Gov'...You are full of ****!!! Why dont you show some sympathy for a change, insted of winding EVERYONE up ALL THE TIME??? You are a sad, sad little man with nothing better to do. Even if these guys did deserve to be terminated (which I dont think they did), that was no way to go about it! A contract works BOTH WAYS with regards to notice!
To the CX guys...Hope everything works out in the end!
Eff Oh.
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Old 16th Aug 2001, 20:33
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Eff Oh - since you obviously have the management side of the story (or otherwise I assume you wouldn't have gone out on a limb here by saying that management effectively breached their contracts), would you mind posting it here? You see, I don't know that side of it ... which is why I am keen to find out what it is.

You've also obviously had many years of expat experience ... where, exactly?

The whole CX situation seems rather unusual - to say the least - and we're only getting half of the picture. My original post on this subject simply pointed out that before we get a case of foot-in-mouth it would be nice to get the whole picture. If the 49/52 people were indeed maltreated then I would be the first to support them. But given CX's current shortage of crews coupled with the huge amounts of money it takes to recruit, select and train top notch pilots, I really can't see why David Turnbull and his team would be willing to throw away millions of US dollars without very good cause indeed.
Old 16th Aug 2001, 20:47
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The thing with the GuvNor is that he logs on to read all your replies to his inflammatory posts. ust ignore, make no reference to his posts, then he will go away. Remember what your Mum told you, ignore it and it will go away....
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Old 16th Aug 2001, 20:51
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I tried to start a thread "Whats happening at CX", but it dissolved into a "slangin' match". What I would like to hear is some FACTS about what is happening. On the FH forum, CX pilots are told, "dont post here, use our internal BB". I'm sure that all of us ppruners would like some insight as to what is going on, at the moment it looks like "The dispute that never was", and for those thinking of joining CX (and please I am NOT one of them), but for those that are, the total lack of INFORMATION, as apart from "dont come here, IFALPA bans, you will be a s**B" type of stuff must really be confusing.Everyday we see CX aircraft, on the ground and in the air, all apparently "ops normal", so could someone from the AOA PLEASE fill us all in on just what the hell IS going on? Thanks
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Old 16th Aug 2001, 21:49
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Thanks for posting Herb, you have my support and best wishes. Being ex-CX, we have friends who were there from when it was an excellent company to work for (a few years ago now!) as well as friends who are more recent joiners.

Those of you who doubt the power of a black list might like to refer to some of those who scabbed for Eastern in the USA. It plagues their careers to this day.

Guvnor, when you are quite done blustering (unlikely) you might like to get a life.

Good luck Herb and your 49ers. Let us know what happens. How many have signed?

[ 16 August 2001: Message edited by: Pilot Barbie ]
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Old 17th Aug 2001, 00:05
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Why IS it, that we have more whinging and moaning from the CX guys, more than any other airline? Could it be that their mis-guided "action" has gone terribly wrong and now they look for sympathy from others?
Look in the mirror, CX guys, the enemy you see, is YOU.
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Old 17th Aug 2001, 04:15
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411A, You're all mouth and trousers until it is your turn to answer a question. Oh, have you forgotten? or are you just a jealous, out of work, spiteful old mam who sits at home in USA behind the protection of Danny's team. Come on tell us who you work for if you've got a job and then we can talk about your attempts to run an airline.
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Old 17th Aug 2001, 04:39
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I believe I told you before, but in case you have forgotten, a new airline with Lockheed TriStar aircraft that will operate in your neck of the woods (SE Asia), all charter flights. Aircraft have now been acquired, heavy maintenance will begin next month and crews will be recruited shortly. As for me, Chief Operating Officer.
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Old 17th Aug 2001, 05:03
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Chief Operating Officer, instead of wasting your time and everyone else's with your usual boring drivel, why don't you spend a bit of your time getting an education? Try www.feer.com. There is an excellent, balanced article on the woes of Cathay Pacific. Some of that style might even rub off on you, although I very much doubt it.
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Old 17th Aug 2001, 05:10
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actually, we (pilots) shall all be grateful for such an unbiased, objective press article. After all the comments we suffer from all sides.
Thanks for posting the link!
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