Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Christmas comes early at BA

Dear British Airways cabin crew,

Obviously festive spirit is in short supply amongst you lot at the moment. Yesterday it was announced that Unite union members have voted for a 12-day strike over Christmas and the New Year, throwing the holiday plans of nearly 1 million British Airways passengers into chaos. It appears that common sense among airline workers is in as short supply as goodwill towards bankers.

12,500 of you will walkout between 22nd December and 2nd January, effectively grounding Heathrow airport’s largest carrier and sparking a scramble for tickets on rival airlines. The disagreement centres around reductions to staff numbers and budgets, which BA recently announced in response to posting a record loss of £401 million in the 12 months to March 2009 and they are already on course to lose £600 million in the current year. Your beloved employer expected to carry about 65,000 passengers a day over the festive period. The last serious industrial dispute that you instigated was in early 2007 and forced BA to refund passengers or switch them to services with other airlines if space was available at an estimated cost of £80 million. Your strike announcement came just a few hours after BA released details of a near-doubling of its pension deficit to £3.7 billion, up from £1.9 billion – making it one of the largest pension deficits in the private sector (although not so high that it would derail the group’s planned merger with the Spanish carrier Iberia, apparently).

So we come to the question of who is to blame. Personally, I think BA are being pretty cheeky by denying that the pension funds announcement was timed to coincide with the Unite meeting, but they are right to emphasise the need to return to profitability as soon as possible to start repairing the damage. BA already puts £330 million a year into their pension pot and is clearly in no position to increase this. However, despite their questionable sense of timing, BA are nowhere near as culpable as you. What I find astonishing, as with the Royal Mail workers who went on several strikes in recent months, is that you seem totally unable to comprehend how self-defeating your strike action will be. BA is already teetering on the brink of financial meltdown, and analysts believe that your 12-day walkout with add £300 million onto their debt. Surely you don’t have to be a gifted mathematician to realise that adding even more debt to a crippled company will jeopardise your own jobs? Royal Mail workers gave Royal Mail’s rivals a huge boost by walking out as their competitors were handed huge amounts of new business, thereby condemning Royal Mail to slip further and further down businesses’ preferred mail providers, and now here you are giving BA’s rivals an early Christmas bonus by handing them extra business in return for absolutely nothing while BA slips rapidly towards oblivion.

I honestly don’t know what the idiots at Unite told you but it is quite clear that you have been brainwashed into thinking that this is the 1970s and you, the workers, are in a position of power – which you’re not. Your strike action is about as idiotic as all the turkeys in this country chipping in to hire a fleet of coaches to bus them down to Parliament square for a protest march demanding that Christmas comes early this year. The only winners here are BA rival operators – you lose, BA lose, families lose, businesses lose, Britain loses. Hearty congratulations for your ridiculous efforts and, in case you were wondering, I don’t wish you a merry Christmas.

Yours sincerely,


Flogged in full via Letters from a Tory.

One linked comment I saw - "
BA is British Leyland with wings."

The unionised in Godzone would do well to take note whilst having a Happy Christmas and planning their next moves.

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