Some Cathay Pacific cabin crew members who misplaced jobs or suffered swingeing pay cuts amid the coronavirus disaster have turned to on-line enterprise to outlive – helped by a “mutual help” scheme amongst former staffers.
Cathay final month introduced it might lay off 5,900 workers worldwide together with 5,300 in Hong Kong. The service additionally axed its regional subsidiary Cathay Dragon after a 35-year run.
Jacky Chan, a purser who had served in Cathay Pacific for over 5 years, was amongst these ready with bated breath to see if he was on the listing. Two hours after the restructuring plan announcement, Chan realised he couldn’t entry varied inside functions. Shortly afterwards, he obtained a termination letter in his solely functioning firm electronic mail inbox.
“It was fairly out of the blue. I anticipated the corporate to chop wages or lay off individuals however after all I didn’t assume it might be me,” he mentioned.
The 33-year-old mentioned it stays unclear why Cathay picked the individuals it did and lots of workers discovered the corporate “aloof” in its perspective. “It’s like relationship – if you wish to break up, you must provide a transparent clarification, fairly than reducing ties directly.”
Airline chairman Patrick Healy mentioned on the time that the corporate had performed all the pieces it might to minimise redundancies. He described the severance packages as “beneficiant” and mentioned Cathay hopes to rent again individuals when it returns to progress sooner or later.
However Chan and fellow cabin crew had been mentally getting ready for months for the axe to fall.
4 months earlier than he was sacked, he and a gaggle of flight attendants launched a YouTube channel known as “FAssembly” that includes movies about their expertise serving on planes. Chan instructed HKFP that, in frequent with many cabin crew members who had virtually no shifts after most flights had been cancelled in February, he wished to discover different profession paths.
The FAssembly’s Instagram web page additionally started to achieve traction, with over 4,800 followers as of this week.
Following the huge layoffs, Chan and his staff determined to launch their “mutual help” scheme, compiling a listing of retailers – largely on-line – run by present or former flight attendants and selling them on their platform.
The staff additionally organised a bazaar in early November in hopes of bringing prospects to those small-scale shops: “The bazaar attracted over 100 functions and we picked 30 outlets ultimately. We prioritised store house owners who had been affected by the layoffs, with greater than 90 per cent of the outlets being run by present and former Cathay workers,” Chan mentioned.
A visiting HKFP reporter noticed dozens of individuals dropping by the stalls which offered quite a lot of items, together with attire, equipment, small decorations and snacks for pets.
Kary Chu was one of many store house owners on the bazaar on November 7. The Cathay Pacific flight attendant and her accomplice started promoting dried fruit in August, after the airline ordered two rounds of unpaid go away.
The 25-year-old mentioned she needed to discover different sources of revenue as she couldn’t survive on her fundamental month-to-month wage of round HK$9,000. “Lots of my colleagues additionally began performing some aspect enterprise since then.”
Chu mentioned working a web-based store has allowed her to hone new expertise like graphic design, and made her realise she might do extra than simply “distributing meals on a aircraft.”
She added she was a “particular case” within the restructuring as a result of she had been on go away with a work-related harm. Her declare was nonetheless being processed, and she or he has not obtained both a termination letter or a brand new contract, she mentioned.
“All I can do now could be wait,” Chu mentioned.
Cathay workers who had been retained got a brand new contract on the day of the redundancy announcement, which they needed to signal inside two weeks. Many suffered important pay cuts and there have been restrictions on flight attendants swapping their shifts.
Whereas Chu beloved working within the aviation business, she was unenthusiastic about Cathay’s pledge to rehire former staffers. The best way the corporate dealt with the restructuring has annoyed many present and ex-employees, she mentioned.
“To be trustworthy, I’m a bit disheartened, due to the corporate’s unyielding perspective. After they did such issues to its frontline workers, personally I might assume – why contribute to this firm?” Chu requested.
Amber Suen, the vice chair of the Cathay Pacific Airways Flight Attendants Union, instructed HKFP the union had instructed a number of methods to delay and minimise redundancies however none of its proposals had been accepted ultimately.
A web based survey commissioned by the Hong Kong Aircrew Officers Affiliation confirmed 79 per cent of the 1,001 respondents thought it was “unfair” that the town’s prime service had made main contract adjustments with out consulting workers.
The survey – performed between October 30 to November 1 – additionally discovered 63 per cent of Hong Kong residents had a “decrease stage of belief” within the firm after the restructuring.
In response to Cathay, 2,613 pilots and seven,346 cabin crew have signed on for the brand new circumstances of service as of November 5. The numbers represented 98.5 per cent of the pilots and 91.6 per cent of the flight attendants who got new contracts.
“These are aggressive contracts, which is able to allow us to proceed to recruit and retain the
absolute best individuals to be our pilots and cabin crew as we search to outlive and rebuild
our enterprise,” the airline mentioned in an announcement.
Suen disagreed, saying the phrases of the brand new contract couldn’t retain expertise within the firm in the long term.
“Workers have misplaced confidence within the firm… for individuals who stayed, many are in search of a manner out.The best way the corporate dealt with this matter was a severe blow to workers morale,” she mentioned.