Saving British Airways

It is a great day for British Airways. It won an injunction on strikes called by Cabin Crew. This will keep the airline flying during the holidays, much to the relief of many passengers. It will possibly save the airline, for now. It will also possibly be the last nail in the coffin of the Trade Union movement in Britain, because the judgement was based on a technicality, which could have been avoided. Great day for British Newspapers, because they seemed to have swayed the opinion.

But, while everyone is happy, it is time to ask whether British Airways can be saved. The answer is possibly a resounding NO, given that this is completely out of touch and arrogant airline, living on borrowed time. The same arrogance is all but obvious in challenging the strike call in the courts, rather than trying to resolve the dispute. They are in denial that airlines is a service business and its crew is what it really has, and trying to take away their rights to strike is not the best way to make them smile.

I stopped flying BA after noticing a few of Cabin Crew giggling up, in the full view of all passengers, while a fat man struggled to put the seat belt around his waist, instead of offering help. I thought that was the most inappropriate behaviour I have seen in a service environment [till last week, when I saw the hotel staff in Poland giggling and enjoying while a Russian lady got stuck in the lift and was shouting for help]. Besides, BA loses too many bags, messed up the whole Terminal 5 business when they moved last year and the food is atrocious. I do not think they stand any chance in the face of various Asian airlines, who have new fleets, better staff and much superior services. [Yes, as I said before, my favourite is Emirates]

However, I think this whole strike affair tops it. Yes, I know about the passenger discomfort and obviously do not condone any dislocation. But, the BA management is surely callous - they knew a strike was in the offing and thought that they can blackmail the workers citing Christmas and all that. While I think the pressure tactics around Christmas time is bad, I think companies like BA needs to look at their business practises because they seem to invite a strike every holiday season. I don't want to sound insensitive, but I guess the customers who are buying tickets on BA during holiday season are knowingly taking some risks every time. I shall not be surprised if the insurance companies soon have a different premium rate if one is planning to travel by BA.

The injunction may have been won, but it does seem that there was an overwhelming consensus on the strike action, which would have held even if the offending ballots were not counted. So, the whole judgement is based on a technicality, which is possibly okay in legal terms, but it further shows the rifts inside the company and the attitude of the management towards their own employees. They will possibly be on air this Christmas, but they will surely fail quite soon.


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