13-Sep-2010 9:07 AM

Unite to consult BA membership on union-busting

British Airways union, Unite, announced (10-Sep-2010) a meeting with all BA members to consult on what the union believes is "union-busting" by management and to "discuss the need for a coordinated and concerted union response". The meeting raises concerns other BA staff could launch industrial action in support of cabin crew, however, Unite stated such action is “several jumps down the line” (Dow Jones, 10-Sep-2010). BA responded stating it has always been available for talks and continues to remain in contact with Unite. [more]

British Airways has requested call centre staff collect passenger complaints about cabin crew comments, including inappropriate comments about passengers, racist comments, swearing, discussing strike action with customers or making “adverse comments” about BA (guardian.co.uk, 12-Sep-2010). The carrier stated examples of such comments are “extremely rare” and the trial is not part of a disciplinary crackdown and is “simply” part of a drive to improve feedback between passengers and staff.

Unite: "The company for its part has always claimed that it wanted to put the interests of passengers first. However, it has continued to prolong the dispute by insisting on collective punishment of cabin crew who took strike action with the removal of staff travel concessions, and through the draconian use of disciplinary procedures to sack and suspend crew members, including many union representatives. In recent weeks, these suspensions have escalated, with two reps recently suspended simply for attempting to represent other crew facing disciplinary action. Around 80 crew have now been sacked or suspended, often for the most trivial reasons. It is now clear that agreed procedures are being abused for purposes of trying to destroy trade unionism among cabin crew. It was my view from the start that this, not cost reductions, was BA’s real agenda and looking at the company’s recent actions unfortunately I have been proved right. This behaviour makes a mockery of commitments Willie Walsh entered into to ensure that disciplinary procedures would not be conducted in this way." Tony Woodley, Joint General Secretary. Source: Unite, 10-Sep-2010.

British Airways: “We have been available for talks at every stage, and continue to remain in contact with Unite. We remain committed to working with the trade unions and have already agreed deals with Unite, on our pensions plan and with our engineers represented by the union,” Company Statement.  Source: Dow Jones, 10-Sep-2010.

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