Friday, 18 December 2009

Hollow Victory

On the face of it, BA bloodied the nose of Unite union yesterday in the court ruling on the validity of the staff ballot to strike, making the planned 12 day stoppage over Christmas illegal.

While that may save Christmas for many BA passengers who had booked up with the airline, it is a hollow victory for the management. The staff had voted 9 to 1, that's 92%, in favour of strike action. BA's staff is overwhelmingly dissatisfied with its management to the extent it has taken the unusual step to strike. The warning bells are there that BA's tactic may seem like a victory in a battle but the war-proper has only now begun.

The union has quickly struck back to say they will re-ballot and put the case once again, properly, to the staff and now BA has the longer term uncertainty of when the real strike will begin. For BA passengers, there is now a hiatus and uncertainty - who would bother booking up new flights with BA when they don't know when the strike will be?

In fact, an argument could have been that at least management knew when the strike would be and they so could act to contain the damage - indeed, it could have worked the emotional blackmail of stranded passengers and disrupted Christmas's for many people to its advantage. But no, it just had to take a swipe at the union. In doing, so they have once again bashed the face of the staff who are so incensed at the company's actions that they were willing to kill Christmas for many customers.

BA don't get it - the staff are furious and want a compromise. BA just seems hell bent on killing its own business. As Robert Peston points out on his blog today, there are many serious issues which BA faces, not least that the hole in its pension fund is now valued higher than the worth of the company - and so it focuses on disenchanting its staff and compromising its revenue stream. They could not be in a worse place as they attempt to buy and integrate another failed airline, Iberian.

I have said it before and will bore you with it again - this is a management in no-man's land. It is killing its own business and seems to think that is a good thing. Change at the top is very urgently needed instead of the dreamer who runs it now.

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