Reply To: BA strike: the media battle

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The following statements have been released by both BA and Unite today, regarding media reporting of the strike by BA cabin crew:

From BA:


Some media reports on our flight operations during the period of Unite’s strike have appeared to give equal weight to information we have issued as to claims made by Unite.

As a PLC, British Airways is legally obliged to ensure that it does not release information that is misleading or inaccurate. Information concerning our operation is clearly market sensitive.

This information includes matters such as numbers of passengers we are able to carry, numbers of flights operated and numbers of crew reporting for work. Any suggestion in media reports that information we have issued is untrue implies that the airline’s management is acting unlawfully.

Unite and its cabin crew branch BASSA are under no such legal constraints. A great deal of the information they have put out over the last three days has no basis in fact. For example, Unite has no way of obtaining accurate figures as to how many customers are on our aircraft or how many crew are reporting for work. Similarly, as some media reports have pointed out, Unite’s claims about the location of British Airways aircraft have been false.

It is extremely confusing for our customers when the content of some media reports conflicts with information we have provided via and direct communications in an effort to minimise uncertainty about travel plans.

We have no difficulty with media desire to report Unite’s strike impartially. We believe this objective, and the objective of accurate reporting, is assisted by rigorous assessment by media organisations of the information they receive.


Unite’s response:


The British Airways statement issued earlier today (below) is a brazen attempt to prevent media reporting Unite’s side of the present dispute. Not content with gagging cabin crew, so they cannot tell their side of the story, British Airways PR operation apparently wants to establish a monopoly of news coverage. All the information Unite has issued over the last three days, particularly in relation to the number of crew reporting for work, has been reliably sourced.

I am confident all journalists covering the dispute will ignore this intimidation, which is all of a piece with what cabin crew have had to put up with. As Tony Woodley said yesterday, BA may be forgetting that we are in Britain, not Burma.

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