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Cathay's flight attendant union slams management for ignoring manpower shortages

Cathay's flight attendant union slams management for ignoring manpower shortages

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The Cathay Pacific Airways Flight Attendants Union has defended its frontline cabin crew members and requested the airline company to provide clear guidance on staff protection, after three staff were laid off for allegedly making fun of non-English speaking passengers on Tuesday.

According to the official statement, the union said Cathay's cabin crew members have always respected and treated all passengers from different countries equally, providing attentive service to passengers from different cultural backgrounds. "Our crew members follow the company's guidelines and communicate with passengers in English or other languages that have been assessed by the company," the statement read. 

The union said it noticed there's an online appeal for passengers to provoke and record the behaviour of crew members. "This action seriously disturbs crew members' work. Crew members are currently under huge pressure and extreme fear," the statement read.

The statement also stressed that as frontline workers in the aviation industry, the cabin crew members are facing a shortage of both manpower and resources, a significant increase in workload and low salaries. "The company ignores these problems, as a result the morale of colleagues is extremely low, and complaints regarding cabin service have arisen," it said. "Nothing comes from nothing," the union said. It urged the company to address the problem at its root cause, rebuild a reasonable and safe work environment, and hence to improve employee morale. 

The union then publicly requested the company to provide clear guidance on how to protect frontline cabin crew members from unreasonable interference and successfully complete all flight services. "We believe all crew members would work together to ensure that every passenger receives high-quality service," the statement added. 

Meanwhile, local reports have emerged around Cathay's cabin crew members have the right to request passengers to delete pictures or videos taken or recorded without consent. According to Ming Pao, FAU issued an internal email to its member on 24 May, stressing that if flight attendants were photographed or video recorded without consent, they can ask the owner of the content to delete the relevant material. They can notify the captain and the cabin service manager if the passengers refused to do so.

In a conversation with MARKETING-INTERACTIVE, Cathay Pacific said it has already concluded the investigation into the incident on Cathay Pacific flight CX987 on 21 May. “We have also reminded our cabin crew on the handling of unruly customers inflight today,” the statement read.

Hong Kong's chief executive John Lee said in an event in Guangzhou that, the incident damaged the image of Hong Kong, as well as hurting the feelings of Hong Kong and mainland compatriots. He urged Cathay Pacific to review its training and service quality, and improve customer service culture.

Don't miss: Cathay Pacific's apology and firing of cabin crew members: Will it be enough to weather the PR storm?

This comes after details of the alleged incident during a flight from Chengdu in Sichuan province to Hong Kong on Sunday revealed on Xiaohongshu went viral across social platforms. The Xiaohongshu user made several accusations against some cabin crew members on the flight CX987, including some members teased passengers’ language ability by saying in English: “If you cannot speak ‘blanket’, you cannot have it,”, “Carpet is on the floor”. The post has garnered over 10k likes and 1,000 comments. 

Since then, Cathay apologised twice on Weibo on 22 and 23 May respectively, stating that it has suspended the flight attendants involved during the course of an internal investigation. On 23 May, Cathay's CEO Ronald Lam apologised again and announced the firing of three cabin crew members involved. Lam reiterated the company’s zero-tolerance approach to any serious breach of the company’s policies and code of conduct and there is no compromise for such violations. “To avoid any similar occurrences in the future, I will personally lead a cross-departmental taskforce to conduct a comprehensive review into our service flow, people training and relevant mechanisms to further enhance Cathay Pacific’s service quality,” the statement added.

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