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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?

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Forza Sindicati!!! September 25, 2008

Posted by supersonicswan in Supersonic.
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Few deviations of nature provoke such a deep feeling of repugnance in my mind and body as Alitalia and its unions do. Probably because they give a clear example of why the power of unionists should be drastically reduced.

Not that exclusively the labor movement is to be blamed for the pitiful state in which the Italian carrier has been for years now. One might say that Alitalia’s most serious disfunction was its origin which naturally forced the airline to be in the very centre of Italian politics. So Mr Berlusconi & Co. could play their games for quite a long while. After that however, the bad boys from EU stepped in and said: “eat up your spaghetti, siesta is over“. The Italians weren’t even allowed the ritual espresso this time…

At the point when the EU decided about unlawfulness of any further subsidies, Alitalia was losing some 1million EUR per day. If I’m not wrong that was around 10-11 months ago. In June 2008 the company lost some 50 million EUR plus, which gives almost 2million EUR loss per day.

Last spring there were rumours about AirFrance-KLM taking over Alitalia. Later on I heard about Aeroflot being interested in same scenario which was materialised in Mr Putin meeting Mr Berlusconi. As coffee doesn’t mix well with very strong spirits, they did not take it any further. Then I read that Turkish Airlines were contemplating the takeover move. Most recently, talks with an Italian consortium CAI collapsed thus drastically diminishing any chances that were left for the airline to stay afloat.

Obviously, we are well advised to skip the Russian & Turkish dilemmas on whether to save the poor Italian or let them burn in hell. Since the very moment AF-KLM pulled out, it was clear no foreign investor will let anyone get them bugged down. Why? Because the unions don’t understand that half a loaf is better than no bread at all. And employees support them in a ridiculous expression of utmost ignorance.

Even during negotiations with CAI, the unionists would protest – against their company’s survival, against their own future and work posts. Protesting against lack of govermental support but rejecting any ideas for restructuring.

The ailing air carrier – nowadays losing more than 2million EUR daily and operating with a provisional licence – is desperately looking for a new buyer. The administrator placed avertisements in Corriere della Sera, la Repubblica but also in the Financial Times. Alitalia is cutting flights due to not being able to buy fuel. Italy’s civil aviation authority ENAC is expected to withdraw the carrier’s licence this week if no cost-cutting measures are undertaken.

CAI’s proposal was rejected by unions because it involved 3000 jobs being cut. Owing to this concern, this week we may see Alitalia’s 19000 employees lose their jobs. Any help is not likely to come – everyone is waiting to snap the restovers at a lower price.