Unite/BASSA to Strike 20/3 for 3 Days, 27/3 for 4 DaysBack to Forum
Clarkson has rather elegantly waded into the fray:
“No. If the cabin crew win, the airline will go under and everyone will be out of a job. So, if they lose, they lose, and if they win, they still lose. Only, if they win, we all lose, because a nation with no national airline is like a nation with no national anthem. Even Ethiopia has one.
“I like Virgin. And I flew Singapore Airlines recently, which was out of this world. But there is nothing quite so joyous as leaving the hustle and bustle of a superheated Third World hellhole and being greeted on the big BA jumbo by a homosexual with a cold flannel and a refreshing glass of champagne. Take that away from us and we may as well all be Belgian.”
FULL TEXT here:21 Mar 2010
instead of quoting that ‘iconic British politian’ Jeremy Clarkson’ love of gay Cabin crew, or playing ‘I spy where are the aeroplanes parked” (well they have to be parked somewhere), why doest this woderful publication Business Traveller take a lesson in marketing from Sky News (arranging the 3 leader deabate going into the election) add try to bring the children together and promote dialogue in a far more proactive and mature way between BA and Unite. As Sky news have just reported (7am Monday morning) there has been no breakthrough in the 3rd day of this stupid dispute, something has to occur otherwise BA may just as well put the aeroplanes up for sale.
Some of you are putting a very good case for BA whilst others are supporting the Unions. Personally, I support a resolution and the basic priciple of a fiding a solution (and I am sure VK will agree) is that YOU HAVE TO TALK TOGETHER.
So Busiess Traveller, how about it, give your backing to finding a solution. Use your power within the travel indsustry as a leader, a leading news publication, and work towards bringing the children to the table. The longer this strike goes on, the less chance BA has for an economic survival. Without seat and cargo revenue, BA cant pay costs which include salaries, which in turn meants they cant provide a service which ultimately means no product which results in passengers like me, flying other airlies. Its very simple, if BA ad Unite continue to play games and the press contiue to fuel these games, well, there will be a glut of Boeing and Airbus aircraft on the second hand market!22 Mar 2010
Its feels from reading all of the press reports that this squabble has/has become personal between Tom Woodley/Brendan Barber and WW.
Perhaps WW should have put in more effort up front instead of the alleged walking out of negotiations, sitting playing with his blackberry (I’ve had that from a firsthand source) and sending junior people in to do his job who were not empowered to negotiate merely dictate his wishes.
As the MD of a business, no business can continue to operate as a loss – I can appreciate that and difficult decision are never easy to make,
I also understand that unhappy employees are not going to live BA’s brand and provide the level of service in the air that F & J passengers expect.
Whilst BA may not have achieved the levels of savings they feel they need to be profitable, a happy workforce will carry a number of intangible benefits such as customer loyalty all of which impact the bottom line.
There is more to running an business than pure numbers – brand, reputation. loyalty, service and perception can’t be accurately valued and in the current situation all or being damaged in my opinion.
WW needs to actually come to the table and be prepared to listen not dictate. The cabin crew need to accept change will happen whether they like it or not.
Someone effective needs to mediate before both WW and the unions drive the business into the ground because they are so entrenched in their own positions.22 Mar 2010
I have to say that I’ve not seen anything that even remotely suggests that the dispute is in any way personally-focussed on either Tony Woodley or Willie Walsh. They may be the faces that the two sides present to the media, but there’s no evidence whatsoever that they’re the sole combatants.
BA Chairman Martin Broughton has gone on record again today to publicly re-affirm that Willie has his and the main board’s unequivocal support. Mr Woodley has only really come to the fore in the media quite recently; until Christmas it was Len McCluskey who was at the sharp end.
Meanwhile Woodley’s counterpart, joint general secretary Derek Simpson, admitted in a TV interview that the 12-day walkout planned for Christmas 2009 was “probably over the top” – which additionally illustrates just how many people on the union side are involved, or at least commenting and influencing.
It would be nice to think that some noughty, Google-esque corporate cuddling could resolve the current impasse; the simple fact is that – as anyone with an understanding of highly-unionised companies, particularly former public-sector ones will know – those fluffy concepts are utterly, completely and wholly irrelevant.
Clarkson was nearly on-the-money with his assertion that “If the cabin crew win, the airline will go under and everyone will be out of a job. So, if they lose, they lose, and if they win, they still lose. Only, if they win, we all lose…”
What he misses is that, uniquely, the union leaders have absolutely nothing whatsoever to lose; nothing. They can preside over the failure of the company and the redundancy of their entire membership, and yet they will keep their own jobs. And, in the meantime, they can further their own union and/or political ambitions.
Casual observers can poke fun at the farcical press breifings and website posts that Unite and BASSA continue to issue; looking for all the world as if someone at the union has found a copy of ‘Comical Ali’s Guide to PR & Communications’.
More serious commentators will understand that there is a fundamental disconnect between the best and collective interests of British Airways’ cabin crew members and the far more selfish and personal goals of their union leadership.
That’s the real inhibitor to a negotiated resolution and, as it stands, as long as the company maintains its current high-standing amongst its customers, shareholders and vast majority of employees, and the union leadership apparently don’t give a damn as they strap on their own hang-gliders and lead their hapless, wingless members to the cliff-edge, then there is little incentive for anyone to go for a latte and discuss vegetarian cookery.22 Mar 2010
A letter to the Guardian:
It is nice to see that there are people with some brains and are not fooled by BA PR’s machine.
23 March 2010
As academics in the field of employment relations our expertise includes the analysis of the causes, process and outcomes of industrial disputes and particularly the dynamics of strike action. Given the near certainty of further strikes (Follow up strike will go ahead says union, March 22nd), it is clear to us that the actions of the Chief Executive of British Airways, notwithstanding his protestations to the contrary, are explicable only by the desire to break the union which represents the cabin crew. What other possible interpretation can there be for Willie Walsh rejecting Unite’s acceptance of BA’s previous offer or indeed of his marshalling of resources, including those of bitter industry rival Ryanair, to undermine the action of his staff? Walsh and now Prime Minister Brown have made the error of underestimating the deep seated and justifiable anger of a loyal and dedicated workforce, whose continued trust and goodwill is a vital ingredient of customer care.
Overwhelming majorities in two strike ballots in the face of tabloid opprobrium testify to employees’ understanding that a victory for Walsh’s macho management strategy would precipitate a race to the bottom in terms of working conditions and job quality. In the process, this would damage beyond repair the high standards of customer service for which BA cabin crew are renowned. The wider significance of a triumph of unilateral management prerogative would be a widening of the representation gap in UK employment relations, and a further erosion of worker rights and of that most precious of commodities – democracy. For all these reasons, BA’s cabin crew and their union, Unite, deserve our support rather than knee-jerk vilification.
Professor Philip Taylor, University of Strathclyde
Professor Sarah Ashwin, London School of Economics
Professor Chris Baldry, University of Stirling
Professor Robert Carter, De Montfort University
Professor Linda Clarke, University of Westminster
Professor Christine Cooper, University of Strathclyde
Professor Andrew Danford, University of West of England
Professor Ralph Darlington, University of Salford
Professor Tony Elger, University of Warwick
Professor Patricia Findlay, University of Strathclyde
Professor Irena Grugulis, University of Bradford
Professor Geraldine Healy, Queen Mary University of London
Professor Ed Heery, Cardiff University
Professor Debra Howcroft, University of Manchester
Professor Jeff Hyman, University of Aberdeen
Professor Richard Hyman, London School of Economics
Professor Steve Jeffreys, London Metropolitan University
Professor John Kelly, Birkbeck College London
Professor Miguel Martinez Lucio, University of Manchester
Professor Sonia McKay, London Metropolitan University
Professor Doug Miller, University of Northumbria
Professor Dennis Nickson, University of Strathclyde
Professor Anna Pollert, University of the West of England
Professor Valeria Pulignano, Universities of Leuven and Warwick
Professor Paul Stewart, University of Strathclyde
Professor Mark Stuart, University of Leeds
Professor Paul Thompson, University of Strathclyde
Professor Martin Upchurch, Middlesex University
Professor Chris Warhurst, University of Strathclyde
Professor Zander Wedderburn, Heriot-Watt University
Dr. Maurizio Atzeni, Loughborough University
Dr. David Beale, University of Manchester
Cecilie Bingham, University of Westminster
Paul Brook, Manchester Metropolitan University
Dr. Peter Butler, De Montfort University
Dr. Iona Byford, Portsmouth University
Dr. Ian Clark, University of Birmingham
Nick Clarke, London Metropolitan University
Dr. Rachel Cohen, University of Warwick
Dr. Hazel Conley, Queen Mary University of London
Dr. Heather Connolly, University of Manchester
Nick Creaby-Attwood, Northumbria University
Dr. Alf Crossman, University of Surrey
Dr. Andrew Cumbers, University of Glasgow
Dr. Ian Cunningham, University of Strathclyde
Dr. Steve Davies, Cardiff University
Dr. Tricia Dawson, University of Westminster
Demet Dimler, School of African and Oriental Studies
Janine Duvier, London School of Economics
Dr. Peter Dwyer, Ruskin College Oxford
Dr. Vaughan Ellis, Edinburgh Napier University
Dr. Debbie Foster, Cardiff University
Dr. Steve French, Keele University
Jo Grady, University of Leicester
Dr. Ian Greenwood, University of Leeds
Dr. Anita Hammer, De Montfort University
Dr. Geraint Harvey, Swansea University
Dr. Jane Holgate, London Metropolitan University
Eleanor Kirk, University of Strathclyde
Dr. Lefteis Kretsos, University of Coventry
Dr Alex Law, University of Abertay
Dr. Dave Lyddon, Keele University
Dr. Patricia McCafferty, University of Strathclyde
Erin van der Maase, Carnegie Trust
Dr. Matteo Mandarini, Queen Mary University of London
Jim Main, University of Strathclyde
Dr. Abigail Marks, Heriot-Watt University
Douglas Martin, University of Strathclyde
Dr. Gerry Mooney, The Open University
Dr. Sian Moore, London Metropolitan University
Dave Napier, London Metropolitan University
Dr. Kirsty Newsome, University of Strathclyde
Dr. Jane Parker, Auckland University of Technology
Dr. Andrew Perchard, University of Strathclyde
Dr. Elke Pioch, Manchester Metropolitan University
Michael Pye, University of Hertfordshire
Dr. Helen Richardson, University of Salford
Dr. Michael Richardson, University of the West of England
Dr. Ian Roper, Middlesex University
Alan Ryan, De Montfort University
Dr. Devi Sacchetto, University of Padua
Dr. Peter Scott, University of Portsmouth
Dr. Melanie Simms, University of Warwick
Bob Simpson, London School of Economics
Bob Smale, University of Brighton
Dr. Andrew Smith, University of East London
Dr. Ian Towers, Euro-Business-College, Berlin
Dr. Alan Tuckman, Nottingham Trent University
Charles Umney, University of Leeds
Dr. Matt Vidal, Kings College London
Dr. Steve Vincent, University of Leeds
Dr. Roger Welch, Portsmouth University
Dr. Glynne Williams, University of Leicester
Dr. Stephen Williams, Portsmouth University
David Wray, University of Northumbria25 Mar 2010
Wow – what a great list of academics…fundamental point for the recovery of the UK markets and industry performance is for Willie Walsh to continue in the current manner he is….we are all working hard in our existing jobs to simply “pay the bills” and support our respective families – 1980’s type tactics by Unions such as UNITE and RMT need to be left in that decade….we are in troubled times and we all need to be living in the 2010s and not 1980s.25 Mar 2010
perhaps the academics would be best served going on a diplomacy course. What else would you expect from Guardian readers. Thank G-d these guys are just commenting and not running industry. Still there is no public words of “we are talking”. For goodness sake, stop the games and find a solution. Here i am at Heathrow in an empty BA lounge – whilst having to fly to the US on an american airline.25 Mar 2010
Regardless of the money BA is losing, regardless of the thousands of inconvenienced passengers I find it incredible that there appears to be NO negotiating going on.
Gordon Brown waded into the situation last week but regardless of his budget duites there has been no more comment.
To every dispute there is an outcome eventually but surely the talking has to start !25 Mar 2010
Travellator – I couldn’t agree more. Any negotiation requires both side to talk AND LISTEN. From what I know, WW seems to be doing lots of talking and no listening at all.
ContinentalClub – I am far from a casual observer. If you’ve seen nothing in the press to show the stand off between WW and UNITE/BASSA then I think you need to just open up a paper or read the internet or talk to anyone who is remotely involved. Whilst I appreciate that change needs to happen and a business can’t run at a loss, I am disgusted at the way in which BA are choosing to handle this – there are many ways to solve the same problem and as far as I am concerned, BA have doing more harm than good with their current approach.25 Mar 2010
While, at a quick glance, it might appear that WW is being deliberately awkward in not now putting the offer back on the table, it is not actually so. He did make it very clear, many weeks ago, that if action started and BA incurred costs, then any offer must be reduced to recover any additional costs.
BA have now spent upwards of £20 million on contingency plans and alternative flights so, if he did now restore the offer, then Unite would be saying how crazy WW is as he could have settled earlier and not spent the money. Unfortunately Unite only decided to accept the offer after it had been withdrawn, with due notice given of the consequences.
Like it or not, Unite are going to lose face on this as their next “condition” will be that travel perks are restored to the strikers. If BA did give these back it would send a clear message that Unite are in charge. I guess that the travel perks saved are probably significantly more than £10 million each year.
BA, and WW, are past the point of no return. Unfortunately Unite may also be.25 Mar 2010