Despite having orange juice thrown on them and being forced to wear “too sexy” uniforms, Cathay Pacific flight attendants are pushing to work longer before retirement. Beginning on November 22nd, the Cathay Pacific Flight Attendants Union (FAU), which represents about 80% of Cathay Pacific’s flight attendants, demanded that the airline extend the retirement age of cabin crew members from 55 to 65 years of age.
The South China Morning Post reports that some airlines, such as All-Nippon Airways, China Airlines, and Philippine Airlines, have already set the retirement age for their flight attendants at 65. The union has also argued it is unfair that for Cathay Pacific flight attendants based in London, the retirement age is 65, and for United States-based cabin crew, there is no mandatory retirement age.
This issue is gaining prominence in light of a viral YouTube video that was released on Tuesday. The video features flight attendants voicing their frustrations with the current retirement age. “Fifty-five is really way too young. It’s too young to retire but too old to start applying for a new job,” flight attendant Ada Alvarez said in the FAU-produced video that has now gone viral on Facebook.
As of the 4:00 p.m. on December 2nd, Facebook users had shared the video 968 times. “CX management should embrace the cabin crew as their most valuable asset… it is [through] us that customer loyalty is built. And also [through] us that services and products get delivered,” wrote one flight attendant in response to the video.
On November 30th, FAU posted about the result of their efforts thus far: “We have collected more than 3,200 signatures to support the Elimination of Age Discrimination in CX. We are now submitting all the signed forms to management [and will post updates later.]”
“If All-Nippon Airways can keep its flight attendants on until 65, and if Singapore Airlines, Cathay’s rival, can let them work until 62, then Cathay’s argument, whatever it is, doesn’t have a leg to stand on,” said reporter Philip Yeung in another SCMP article on Monday.
In response to FAU’s claims, Cathay Airlines stated in a press release on November 18th that the retirement policies align with Hong Kong’s laws and that, “There are different regulatory requirements to comply with in terms of those cabin crew who are based outside of Hong Kong.” On Twitter, the airline has been silent regarding discussion on cabin crew’s retirement age, but they have posted a tweet featuring a flight attendant.
— Cathay Pacific (@cathaypacific) November 22, 2016
Look on the bright side: regardless of what age Cathay Pacific sets for cabin crew members’ retirement, there’s a lot to look forward to in retirement. Once retired, maybe flight attendants can travel across China with a loved one or even live there.
In the video’s conclusion, FAU External Vice-Chairman Silvia But pushed for further support:
Please do ask yourself what you can rely on for supporting yourself after the retirement at age 55. In fact we are now only fighting for a better future. No matter you are a Senior or Junior Flight Attendant, we should all stand out to fight for the rights and fairness that we deserve.
By Abby Ordillas