SCMP Monday, July 9, 2001

Cathay repaid my loyalty with sack, says nut-throwing pilot


A Cathay Pacific captain sacked for throwing nuts at the airline's chief executive says he was fired despite 12 years of "loyal service", his opposition to union roster practices and a plea that he had suffered personal crises.
Speaking for the first time since his controversial sacking from his home outside Brisbane, Scott Munro said: "Loyalty will get you nowhere with this company."
Mr Munro said Cathay refused to reinstate him even after he wrote a "grovelling" letter, detailing his personal crises to chief executive David Turnbull.
Mr Munro, 47, said: "I have shown the management an incredible amount of loyalty throughout the 12 years I was there. I think the fact that I was made to go in spite of this reflects the current industrial climate at Cathay. I was a scapegoat."
Mr Turnbull has said Mr Munro was sacked because "he threw things at me, he's the captain of the ship. It's not what you expect of him".
Mr Munro was speaking as Cathay vowed it would not bow to the pilots' industrial action.
The Post revealed in April how Mr Munro's career crashed after his behaviour in Cathay's private Dakota Bar near Chek Lap Kok. Mr Turnbull, also the airline's deputy chairman, spoke to three pilots, including Mr Munro, after a handful of nuts landed close to his table.
Mr Munro said: "It was a Friday night. I had had quite a few beers and I was in a jovial mood so I threw some peanuts at the ceiling.
The father-of-three added: "He [Mr Turnbull] had his back to us, the peanuts did not hit him, I did not use any swear words and did not offer any violence."
After an interview with Cathay management on March 27, the senior captain received a letter the next day telling him he was suspended for gross misconduct.
After a brief hearing in April, he was told he was sacked. Two appeals were rejected.
He said: "It was a kangaroo court because all the people hearing my case were below the rank of the complainant.
"The funny thing about all this was that I was suspended by the Aircraft Officers' Association [AOA] for helping the company at the time," Mr Munro said. "That meant I was persona non grata at the AOA and therefore it was easier for the company to fire me."
Mr Munro said he had been suspended by the union for working on his days off last October, to help the company and to get time off to nurse his sick mother.
"My mother died three weeks prior to the incident. My father was seriously ill at the time and leaning on me for help," Mr Munro said. "It's fair to say that I was under a lot of stress."
Mr Munro is yet to find a new job.