HONG KONG – Trade union members in Hong Kong rallied Wednesday against the city’s flagship Cathay Pacific airline for firing employees apparently because of links to this summer’s ongoing pro-democracy protests.

A banner behind a stage in a central public square read “Revoke termination” and “Stop terrorizing CX staff,” referring to the airline by its code.

The Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions said that 20 employees have been dismissed or forced to resign, including pilots, cabin crew and managers. CEO Rupert Hogg resigned earlier this month to take responsibility following recent events, the airline said.

Cathay has confirmed the dismissal of several employees in the past two weeks. It has said given various reasons, such as a pilot who misused company information or another who is in legal proceedings, without mentioning the protests. One Cathay pilot was charged with rioting during a protest.

The trade union confederation called the rally after Cathay Dragon, a Cathay group airline, fired the head of its cabin crew union.

Chinese aviation authorities have pressured Cathay by banning staff from mainland flights if they support “illegal protests.” China’s central government has been sharply critical of the protests in the semi-autonomous territory.