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The Hong Kong Cabin Crew Federation (HKCCF) has spoken out against Cathay Pacific’s staff survey on the extension of flight attendants’ retirement age. According to the federation, the current arrangement constitutes age discrimination and the company has an obligation to eliminate it.
Under the current policy, Cathay Pacific’s flight attendants must retire at 55, while pilots can retire at 65. The subject has been an ongoing source of disagreement between the company and many of its staff, who feel the policy is discriminatory and leads to an increased financial burden.
In what seemed to be a step forward in the discussion, earlier this month Cathay Pacific sent a survey to over 9,000 of its Hong Kong-based cabin crew, asking them to take a vote on the potential extension of their retirement age. The company says if more than 5,000 voters agree, it will start negotiations with the HKCCF.
Days before the 5 September deadline, the HKCCF is now criticising Cathay’s move to leave the decision up to a survey. “Anti-discrimination is the obligation of an employer,” HKCCF spokesperson Carol Ng told RTHK.
She added that the government should have more say in the matter, since public opinion agrees that laws against age-related discrimination should be enacted quickly.
In addition to disapproving of the survey itself, the HKCCF has condemned the wording used in it. A post on the union’s Facebook page reveals the introduction to the survey, which it says is aimed at scaring younger employees about their future promotion chances.
In an email to Human Resources, a Cathay spokesperson stated the company has been working closely with the Flight Attendant Union over the last several months in a combined working group to discuss the retirement age matter.
He said: “The working group agreed to conduct a survey to ascertain whether the majority of our Hong Kong based cabin crew desires an extension to retirement age. This survey will close on 5 September. We are committed to maintaining close communication directly with our people. The working group will study the findings and continue discussions as appropriate.”
HKCCF was not immediately available for comment.
Photo / Cathay Pacific