`His message was clear: come back or face the sack'

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The Independent Online
British Airways has repeatedly denied staff and union claims that they had been "bullied" or "intimidated". A senior stewardess, fearful of being dismissed, gives her reply anonymously:

"I have been a stewardess for more than a decade. Let me say I was very proud of working for British Airways. But recent events have made me think again. The manner in which I, and many of my friends, have been treated is nothing short of disgusting.

Last Saturday I was called at home by a manager. It was a very threatening, intimidating conversation. I was asked whether I would be reporting to work on Wednesday this week. I said no. Things turned nasty. I was asked whether I realised I could lose my job. I was told I could be sued for financial loss to the company.

I had been watching the women's championship at Wimbledon. Although I saw the rest of the match, I could not remember a stroke. His message was clear: come back or face the sack.

Many of my friends in BA have sought medical help. The stress of dealing with managers has made them ill. I feel sick just thinking about the tactics that I, and others, have had to endure. There are few crew who, thanks to the management style, have a good word for Mr Ayling.

Staff have all received letters which are designed to scare. These tell those staff on strike they will get no promotion until the year 2000; will not be paid any basic pay until BA obtains "full value for services"; and lose staff travel concessions until the end of March 2000. Members on strike will have letters "placed on file".

Is this anyway to run an airline? Staff and management disagree about pay and conditions. We have voted overwhelmingly for this action.

That is our right. Is it Mr Ayling's to demoralise and destroy crew?

I am a middle-aged, middle-class, mother-of-two with a mortgage. I am no militant. I am on strike. But I do not expect to be treated like this.