The United Nations' International Labour Organisation (ILO) has opened an investigation into Cathay Pacific Airways' conduct during a continuing dispute with pilots that resulted in more than 50 of them being sacked last year.

The investigation follows a response to a request made last month by the International Federation of Air Line Pilots' Associations (IFALPA), which alleged that Cathay management violated international standards for workers' protection in sacking 51 of its pilots last July.

Cathay has been in dispute with its cockpit crews for years over pay and rostering issues. Last July pilots launched a work-to-rule campaign that disrupted operations for more than a month. The carrier effectively retaliated by sacking the 51 pilots, all but one of them members of the Hong Kong Aircrew Officers' Association.

The airline has said it was within its rights to terminate the employment of the pilots and has cited court rulings in the USA and Hong Kong that have been in its favour.

IFALPA, citing an ILO letter, says the organisation's International Labour Standards Department has agreed to investigate allegations of infringements of trade union rights. The Hong Kong Government will be invited to respond or comment.

Source: Flight International