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Willie & the unions October 15, 2009

Posted by supersonicswan in Uncategorized.
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It is a mesmerising story; one which beginnigs nobody remembers and one that never ends even if the public would love it to do so. Even watching Frodo climbing that mountain in his quest to bury the ring in the third part of the LOTR series wasn’t nowhere near as exhausting as seeing the action develop in the W. Walsh v. Unite & Co. case.

A quick update on what’s on this time: after catching up with his finance boys Willie realised that BA has lost £401m during the last financial year and drew to a conclusion that some money-saving measures would do the company well. Asking the employees to work less, take unpaid holidays or even work for free, didn’t do any good. Probably because Willie didn’t give up on his own salary (which actually could have made a difference & surely would put him in a better light while asking his staff to do the same). Determined to cut the costs, Willie announced that some job axing will be necessary; also,  that some 3000 of the crew will have to go part-time. And to top it up, Willie also envisages pay freezes and pay deals cuts  for the reminder of his cabin crew as well as completely revamped deals for new hires.

Uffffff… Brave move,  Mr Walsh.

“In a letter to cabin crew members of Unite, joint leaders Tony Woodley and Derek Simpson said the changes, due to be imposed from November 16, constituted a “fundamental attack” on jobs, wages and career prospects.” (Sky News)

And one more:

“Instead of looking to make discussion or negotiations work, (BA bosses) prefer to force through changes even if it puts them into dispute with most of their workforce.” (Sky News)

Talks started on Wed but United is already prepared for a strike ballot. It doesn’t come as a huge surprise as strike occurence at BA roughly corresponds with all major holidays and festivities, and Xmas is around the corner. They could even squeeze two actions in!

Am I being sarcastic? Not at all.

Coming from the country of “Solidarnosc” and Lech Walesa, maybe I should bear more understanding for unions. But all I’ve ever learnt about them is that as soon as they form there will always be somebody that will play them for their own goals.

To sum up: the last thing I believe is that BA’s unions are actually acting in the best interest of the company’s employees. It’s not a high rocket science to figure out the better solution is to let some ppl go, save up some money, restructure the company and then possibly rehire at least some of them. The worse one being to press for preservation of the status quo that prevents BA plc. from any changes bringing in only more debt. I imagine firing your employees is not the funniest part of the job but it is still better to shave some jobs than close the shop and leave everybody on the street. And Unite seems not to understand it.

Which side are you on in this debate? Do you think BA’s management should opt for the hard stand or give in? Is Unite ready for an open discussion or just sticks to its’ dogma? Is BA able ever to even its labour relations with these enjoyed by JetBlue?