SCMP Thursday, September 27, 2001

Both sides appeal to nobler instincts


"We are fighting for respect. We are tired of being portrayed as the greedy villain when we are proud to be professionals who deserve professional recompense."
- Aircrew Officers' Association president Nigel Demery yesterday.
"What their members need most is to secure the future of the airline that pays their salaries . . ."
- Cathay Pacific chief executive David Turnbull yesterday.
Cathay Pacific pilots had a lot of reading to do yesterday, with lengthy and competing appeals from two men who want to lead them in different directions. Both claim to have the pilots' futures at heart, and messages from both the union president and the Cathay chief executive provoke an emotional response.
From management there is fear, a warning that jobs and salaries may be at stake after the US tragedy, and an accusation that the union action aims to damage the company financially.
"What matters is not making a profit but having enough cash to pay the bills," writes Mr Turnbull in his letter to staff.
From Mr Demery, in his annual report to members, comes an appeal for dignity. What they are fighting for is more fundamental than rostering, remuneration and benefits - it is respect. "This has not been a very productive year," he writes near the start. He goes on to say history would record 2001 as the year Cathay pilots regained their self-respect. "So, to summarise the industrial issues of the last year, I would say that the pilots are now using financial levers on management in an attempt to ask to be treated with a little more respect. Sad and wasteful, isn't it?"