11,500 more HK people unemployed in 2020 Q3 as Cathay axes 5,900 jobs

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The Cathay Pacific Group announced a "corporate restructuring" as it reduces its workforce in light of the global COVID-19 crisis. (PHOTO FROM: Cathay Pacific)

Over 5,900 job posts in the Cathay Pacific Group have been cut after the airline announced a “corporate restructuring” in light of the COVID-19 pandemic’s effect on the travel industry Wednesday.

The group announced the restructuring on Wednesday.

Cathay Dragon, the group’s regional subsidiary, also stopped operations. The group said it will seek regulatory approval for most of Cathay Dragon’s routes to be operated by itssubsidiaries Cathay Pacific and HK Express.

A statement from the Cathay Pacific Airways Flight Attendants Union’s Facebook page Wednesday said 2,000 cabin crew were forced to leave the company, and others had terms of their contracts amended.

The mass layoff comes on the heels of Hong Kong hitting 6.4% unemployment in the previous quarter as it bore the brunt of the global health crisis.

This translates to 11,500 more people unemployed, according to a government press release released Oct. 20. Total employment in the city decreased by 15,600, with 4,200 individuals leaving the labor force.

Secretary for Labour and Welfare Dr. Law Chi-kwong said in the Tuesday statement that Hong Kong’s labour market deteriorated for the third quarter of 2020 as a whole amid the COVID-19 third wave.

But as the situation eased in September, the job market showed signs of stabilization, he said.

“The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate increased by 0.3 percentage point from June – August 2020 to 6.4% in July – September 2020, the highest in close to 16 years, while the underemployment rate remained unchanged at 3.8%. The year-on-year decline in total employment widened to 5.8%, while that in labour force remained at 2.1%,” he was quoted saying.

Law said unemployment rose in the food and beverage as well as construction service industries, while it deteriorated in other industries such as the arts, entertainment, and recreation sectors.

The Labour and Welfare Secretary said the job market will continue to experience pressure due to the epidemic. In response, the Government has rolled out the Employment Support Scheme to help struggling companies pay the salaries of their workers.

“The Government will continue to monitor the situation closely,” Law said.