Hong Kong unions urge Cathay Pacific to end ‘white terror’


FILE PHOTO: A Cathay Pacific Boeing 777-300ER plane lands at Hong Kong airport after it reopened following clashes between police and protesters, in Hong Kong, China August 14, 2019. REUTERS/Thomas Peter/File Photo

HONG KONG (Reuters) – The Hong Kong Federation of Trade Unions on Friday called on Cathay Pacific (0293.HK) to put an end to what it described as “white terror”, following the dismissal of Rebecca Sy, the head of Cathay Dragon’s Airlines Flight Attendants’ Association.

Hong Kong’s flagship carrier has become the biggest corporate casualty of the city’s anti-government protests after China demanded the airline suspend staff involved in, or who support, the demonstrations that have roiled the city.

Sy’s departure, which Cathay confirmed on Friday, follows the shock resignation of Cathay CEO Rupert Hogg last week.

Sy said at a press conference on Friday she was fired after managers saw and confirmed her Facebook account. Management did not provide a reason for her dismissal, she added.

Pilots and cabin crew at Hong Kong’s flagship carrier have described a “white terror” of political denunciations, sackings and phone searches by Chinese aviation officials amid anti-government protests gripping the former British colony.

Cathay said ahead of the press conference on Friday that recent weeks had been extremely challenging for its employees.

“We thank all our dedicated staff who are committed to serving our customers in a professional manner,” Cathay Pacific Director Corporate Affairs James Tong said.

The airline, 30% owned by Air China (601111.SS), became embroiled in crosswinds between Beijing and pro-democracy groups in the Asian financial hub after some of its employees took part in the Hong Kong protests.

Reporting By Donny Kwok and Anne Marie Roantree; Editing by Nick Macfie

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