HONG KONG (AP) -- About 25 United Airlines flight attendants protested at the Hong Kong Airport on Thursday, threatening to hold a ''chaos strike'' - a random, unannounced walkout - over the termination of the carrier's pension plan.
The airline's employees were holding similar demonstrations in Tokyo, London, Frankfurt, Germany, and 14 U.S. locations, said Jack Kande of the Association of Flight Attendants.
''We are informing the public that we can go on chaos strike at any time without warning. We could shut down the whole system,'' Kande said.
Some of the protesters held signs that said, ''Chaos is coming to Hong Kong'' and ''Save our pension.'' They marched outside the airport and near the check-in counters.
The flight attendants were protesting a decision by the financially troubled airline - a unit of UAL Corp. - to turn the union's pension plan over to the U.S. federal government's pension insurer. A bankruptcy judge in May approved United's plan to unload its plans on the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp.
Kande said the switch would mean that workers would lose the pension money that United was to contribute under the old plan. The losses would range from 30 percent to 70 percent of what the flight attendants expected from their pensions, he said.
United Airlines said in a statement that it wants to reach agreement with the union and that operations at the Hong Kong airport would not be affected.
Even if the leaders of United and Continental agree to merge their airlines, the hard work of combining two work forces with different unions and conflicting interests will remain.
The history of the airline industry is littered with cases in which peace in the boardroom was followed by rancor among co-workers at 30,000 feet.
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American Airlines executives and about 300 union employees joined together Wednesday to argue that Congress should protect pensions -- just as four other major airlines are abandoning or trying to...