Hundreds of people protested in Hong Kong on Wednesday to denounce Cathay Pacific Airways (0293.HK) for dismissing crew taking part in or supporting anti-government rallies.
Cathay was targeted for sacking 20 pilots and cabin crew and what staff members had described as “white terror’’, a phrase used to describe anonymous acts that create a climate of fear.
“Revoke termination, stop terrorising CX staff,’’ “Uphold our freedom of speech’’ proclaimed a black banner in English at the protest site where at least 2,000 gathered peacefully.
The Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions (HKCTU) switched the protest venue, originally planned to be outside the airline’s airport headquarters, Cathay City, to the central financial district after police refused permission.
The airport was forced to close two weeks ago after protesters thronged the arrivals hall for days, grounding about 1,000 flights and occasionally clashing with police.
The airline has been caught in the crosswinds between authorities in Beijing and protesters who have staged sometimes violent demonstrations.
China has denounced the protests and accused the U.S. and Britain of interfering in its affairs, adding that Hong Kong has sent a clear warning that forceful intervention is possible.
Rebecca Sy, former head of a flight attendants’ association, said she was fired without explanation after managers saw her Facebook account.
“We never faced any disciplinary action from the company before. How come now they just terminate me without any valid reason.
“They simply showed me those printouts of my own private Facebook account.’’