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Cathay Pacific cabin crew votes on retirement age extension

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Cathay Pacific cabin crew members are taking a vote on the potential extension of their retirement age. Currently at 55, some call the mandatory retirement policy discriminatory, while others feel it leads to an increased financial burden on families as many 55-year-old parents still need to support their children.

As part of the ongoing discussion, Cathay Pacific has asked cabin crew to take a vote. A survey was sent to over 9,000 Hong Kong-based cabin crew yesterday, consisting of one question only: “Do you support an extension of retirement age to 60 years of age?”

According to posts on the Facebook page of the Cathay Pacific Airways Flight Attendants Union, a minimum of 5,000 cabin crew members have to vote yes before the deadline of 28 August. “Or else Bye Bye at 55″, the posts state.

In a statement to Human Resources, a Cathay Pacific spokesperson confirmed the aim of the survey is “to ascertain whether the majority of Cathay Pacific’s Hong Kong-based cabin crew desire an extension to their retirement age.”

It is unclear what action Cathay Pacific will take exactly should the survey collect over 5,000 positive responses. A post in the Facebook group CX Secrets suggests at least 5,000 “Yes” votes are required to keep the discussion going.

Disagreeing with the reasoning above, another crew member argues that extending the retirement age would be a big mistake. According to the poster, a higher retirement age will affect the time frame for promotions, leading to staff having to work longer to obtain higher titles and salaries.

The Cathay Pacific Airways Flight Attendants Union (FAU) has been continuously working with Cathay Pacific on the retirement age matter. Last year, the union produced a video, pleading to extend the retirement age of cabin crew to 65.

Speaking to Human Resources about the survey, an FAU spokesperson said it fully supports the goal to extend the retirement age to 60, as it believes the current policy constitutes age discrimination. “While our cockpit crews may choose to retire at 65 and our office staff and ground staff may also work until the age of 60, it is not acceptable that we, cabin crews, are being totally ignored in this aspect,” the spokesperson said.

Per the FAU, at the age of 55 many cabin crew members are still very capable in their job, and wish to contribute more to the company as well as society.

The spokesperson concluded: “We may only recieve our MPF by the age of 65. Which means there is a total gap of 10 years in between. If we think ahead, what can we do to strive for a living between these ten years?”

ALSO READ: Bigger role to play for Hong Kong employers in retirement planning

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