Leading article: A trade union's flight from sanity

Share
Related Topics

It would appear that turkeys do sometimes vote for Christmas after all. Earlier this week the British Airways cabin crew union held a ballot and chose to mount a 12-day strike over the festive period. BA's management is frantically sorting through thousands of crew and pilot rotas to work out a new schedule and minimise disruption. And yesterday it launched a legal challenge to the union's ballot. But serious inconvenience still looms for one million passengers.

It is possible to have sympathy with the BA crew in that they are being asked to accept hundreds of redundancies, an increased workload and a pay freeze. But they are hardly the only workers being asked to make painful adjustments in these straitened times. And with BA losing £292m in the six months to September (the worst results in the airline's history) savings clearly need to be made. Wait and see is not a credible option. The sudden and protracted decline in the number of profitable business-class passengers over the past year indicates that BA needs an entirely new business model.

The cabin crew union, of course, have a perfect right to demand that management heeds its concerns about restructuring. And the 9 to 1 margin of the vote in favour of a strike indicates a worrying disconnect between management and cabin staff. The team of BA chief executive Willie Walsh is clearly far from blameless.

Nevertheless, industrial action will prove entirely self-defeating. If all flights are grounded for the duration of the strike, BA could forgo between £200m and £300m in revenues. The airline's no-frills competitors are already scrambling to take advantage of its predicament.

But the price of the loss of goodwill for BA and its staff will be still greater. Passengers will not soon forgive the airline if this strike means they are not reunited with their families over Christmas. Many are already resentful of the anxiety the threat of industrial action has caused.

The union claims the management's cuts will undermine the service offered to passengers. But there is one service that air passengers value above all others: reliability. And it is that service which this senseless strike threatens to blow out of the skies.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Account Executive/Sales Consultant – Permanent – Hertfordshire - £16-£20k

£16500 - £20000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: We are currently r...

KS2 PPA Teacher needed (Mat Cover)- Worthing!

£100 - £125 per day: Randstad Education Crawley: KS2 PPA Teacher currently nee...

IT Systems Manager

£40000 - £45000 per annum + pension, healthcare,25 days: Ashdown Group: An est...

IT Application Support Engineer - Immediate Start

£28000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Software Application Support Analyst - Imm...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Emma Watson has become the latest target of the 4Chan nude hacking scandal  

What is 4Chan? And why does it threaten women like Emma Watson?

Memphis Barker
Chuka Umunna was elected MP for Streatham in 2010  

Could flirty Chuka Umunna be worth a punt for Labour’s top job?

Matthew Norman
Syria air strikes: ‘Peace President’ Obama had to take stronger action against Isis after beheadings

Robert Fisk on Syria air strikes

‘Peace President’ Obama had to take stronger action against Isis after beheadings
Will Lindsay Lohan's West End debut be a turnaround moment for her career?

Lindsay Lohan's West End debut

Will this be a turnaround moment for her career?
'The Crocodile Under the Bed': Judith Kerr's follow-up to 'The Tiger Who Came to Tea'

The follow-up to 'The Tiger Who Came to Tea'

Judith Kerr on what inspired her latest animal intruder - 'The Crocodile Under the Bed' - which has taken 46 years to get into print
BBC Television Centre: A nostalgic wander through the sets, studios and ghosts of programmes past

BBC Television Centre

A nostalgic wander through the sets, studios and ghosts of programmes past
Lonesome George: Custody battle in Galapagos over tortoise remains

My George!

Custody battle in Galapagos over tortoise remains
10 best rucksacks for backpackers

Pack up your troubles: 10 best rucksacks for backpackers

Off on an intrepid trip? Experts from student trip specialists Real Gap and Quest Overseas recommend luggage for travellers on the move
Secret politics of the weekly shop

The politics of the weekly shop

New app reveals political leanings of food companies
Beam me up, Scottie!

Beam me up, Scottie!

Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

Beware Wet Paint

The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
Sanctuary for the suicidal

Sanctuary for the suicidal

One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world