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Cathay Dispute turns nasty!

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Cathay Dispute turns nasty!

Old 6th Jul 2001, 12:03
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Post Cathay Dispute turns nasty!

Cathay Pacific Airways today fired three pilots as a work slowdown by unionized pilots delayed more of the carrier's flights today.

Cathay also chartered 10 aircraft and crew as a contingency for more disruptions.

Cathay's corporate development director, Tony Tyler, said one of the pilots was an eight-year veteran and union member who had received a previous warning about his job performance and was terminated over delays on a flight from Vancouver.

The second pilot, who was not a union member, was fired for not taking sufficient rest before showing up to fly, Tyler told a news conference.

The third pilot, a union member with 11-year employment in Cathay, was fired as he failed to report for duty without a "satisfactory reason" for a flight from Los Angeles, a company statement said late today.

Tyler said the firings were "related to the particular actions of particular individuals" and insisted there was no retaliation over the industrial action that began Tuesday.

But the general secretary of the pilots union, John Findlay, called the firings a predictable tactic that he said will not intimidate the pilots from continuing to slow flights by working exactly according to the rule.

"The members of the union have seen this sort of action from Cathay in the past and they know what to expect," Findlay said. "I don't think this will cause anything except a strengthening in the resolve of the members."

The carrier said 55 flights were delayed by 15 minutes or more as of late today, partly due to the pilots' "work-to-rule" industrial action, which began on Tuesday after talks on pay and working conditions broke down late last week.

Cathay said 45 of its 130 flights were delayed on Wednesday, with passengers stranded for more than five hours in the worst incident resulting from the dispute over pilots' pay and working conditions.

As Typhoon Utor approached the area later in the day, Cathay said it likely would have to cancel or delay up to 20 incoming flights and warned that some long-haul inbound flights might have to land in other cities. Flights leaving Hong Kong could experience "significant delays due to the approach of the typhoon," Cathay said.

"The impact of the typhoon on the airline's operations will be compounded by the [union's] industrial action campaign, and the union's apparent unwillingness to help the airline recover from any weather-related disruption," Tyler said in a statement early in the day.

"Under these circumstances, Cathay Pacific has decided to take the precautionary step of securing the additional capacity," Tyler's statement said.

The 10 jets and dozens of crew Cathay chartered from Air China, China Northwest, China Northern, China Southwest and China Eastern, arrived at the airport Thursday. The planes were to stay on standby.

The Cathay pilots' union has requested its members to follow company regulations strictly by checking in only one hour and 20 minutes before scheduled takeoffs and by meticulously going over preflight procedures.

The union said this would cause flight delays because pilots normally arrive half an hour earlier than required to ensure prompt takeoff. The union has also warned it might escalate its campaign if necessary.

The pilots accuse the Cathay management of "hiding" essential data on flying hours, making it impossible to assess the airline's final offer on pay and scheduling.

But Cathay accuses the union of walking away from a generous package, which management withdrew over the weekend amid threats of industrial action.


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